I just wanted to share some recent developments in Wales, which I think feed really well into open government more broadly.
Last week the Welsh Parliament voted to pass the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Bill, which aims to reform local government in Wales.
Among some pretty seismic changes the bill contains provisions to put a duty on all local authorities to publish strategies on encouraging participation. As part of it the councils will have a duty to consult residents on the strategy development.
The bill also puts in place a new duty on all councils to set up petition schemes.
These two areas put a really good emphasis on participation and we’re really excited to see how the changes are implemented after the bill receives Royal Assent.
Other areas of the bill include;
The extension of the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds and all registered foreign citizens
The option for individual authorities to move to the Single Transferable Vote instead of the First Past the Post voting system
The ability for registration officers to register voters without application (automatic voter registration), although this does require an additional statutory instrument to take effect.
I hope this is of interest.
Good news indeed. Question now is, how many locaql authorities take up the STV option?
Hi Martin, this is one of our big focuses in my day job. We’re working with councils at the moment to try and shore up support. These provisions won’t be enacted until next term (as it wasn’t deemed there was enough time to do boundary reviews etc before the next election) so it’s a long term process.
This is such amazing news. Welsh government progressive approach creates such hope. Thanks for sharing.
Both initiatives sound very positive but I won’t hold my breath! Are you aware of Prof David Runciman’s views on voting age https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/06/give-six-year-olds-the-vote-says-cambridge-university-academic?
Push for the extreme in order to achieve the moderate!
Great news, something we could really do with here in NI. Local authorities have duty to engage communities under community planning but doesn’t go far enough and can be very tokenistic.
Thanks, Paul. We did raise the risk of this while giving evidence and asked Welsh Government to publish guidance on what these participation strategies should include, so I’ll keep you updated on how things go after the Act receives Royal Assent.