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Lincolnshire councillor calls for publication of all voting records in local government

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: January 22, 2013

John Bishop

‘Frustrated’: Liberal Democrat John Bishop

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A Lincolnshire councillor says he will launch a petition to encourage "more transparency" in local government.

John Bishop wants every councillor in the county to have their votes at local authority meetings recorded.

He believes individual votes should then be made accessible to the public online.

As a result, the 75-year-old insists electoral turnout would increase dramatically.

Liberal Democrat Mr Bishop has held a seat on North Kesteven District Council since 2011.

He is planning to set up a petition on the Downing Street website asking the Government to make it a legal requirement for local authorities to record members' votes.

He said: "I am hugely frustrated by the lack of transparency and communication in local government.

"We serve on these authorities for the people who put us there - so they need to be in a position where they can see exactly what their local councillor is voting for.

"There simply isn't enough transparency in politics and if that continues it will always be a case of 'them and us.'

"I've decided to set this petition up online and in the meantime urge councillors from Lincolnshire County Council down to district and town councils to disclose their votes."

Mr Bishop came third in his bid to represent Lincoln East at county council level in August last year - following the resignation of shamed Conservative Sara Cliff.

"When I first entered politics I was very naive," he added.

"I have heard talking of voter apathy and low turnouts but not of what we can do about it as politicians.

"If I want to know how my MP voted in Parliament I can look it up on the internet.

"On the other hand, if I wanted to know how my local Lincoln City, district or county councillor has voted the answer is really not likely. I welcome my constituents or anybody else for that matter seeing my voting record.

"This is why I am now asking councillors all over the county, and even country, that if they believe transparency is paramount in local government, to request their vote be recorded.

"I seriously believe this will boost turnout figures at local elections. We should be fighting tooth and nail to get people interested in political affairs once again."

David O'Connor, Executive Director for Performance and Governance at Lincolnshire County Council, said: "The county council tries to be as transparent as possible, and publishes records of all its meetings and formal decisions.

"For most votes, only the overall result is recorded. However, any councillor can ask for the way they voted to be added to the minutes. Similarly, if there's sufficient support among the councillors at a meeting, the votes of each member can be recorded."

Marianne Overton, leader of the opposition at Lincolnshire County Council and Independent councillor, said: "I would not have a problem with the idea of recorded votes.

"There is the option at county council for someone to publicly wish for their vote to be recorded in the notes – but perhaps it should be compulsory.

"That way the people who voted for their representative can see exactly if they are representing them in meetings.

"This system would encourage transparency in local government and make more people interested in current affairs because the voting results will be easily accessible online."

The petition is due to be online within the next month.

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  • GrahamKSmith  |  January 24 2013, 2:58AM

    I think I am correct in saying that any member of North Kesteven District Council may ask that their vote on each question be recorded. In addition, should several members request that the vote be recorded, the minutes will show how each member voted. If how each member votes is of such concern to Councillor John Bishop, why has he not taken advantage of this existing provision?

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