IAN HART AV and the Worthing elections

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SO AV got an emphatic thumbs down from the electorate, but was that to do with mass disaffection with the Lib Dems, rather than a genuine decision over the future of our elections?

Although tried and tested down the centuries the “first past the post system” still clearly has flaws. Take our own local elections last week. Whether you agree with his politics or not Robin Rogers was a good ward councillor in Castle. However, last week he lost his seat to Tory candidate Daniel Humphreys, who I’m sure, will do equally as good a job.

But look at the figures, aside from the traditionally poor turnout, 39.3 per cent, i.e., just under two thirds of the Worthing electorate couldn’t be bothered to vote (yet will be amongst the first to complain when things don’t go their way); there is an argument to say Daniel Humphreys won with a minority vote.

He came first with 892 votes, yet the other three candidates polled 1,494 votes between them, including Robin Rogers just 90 votes behind. So the argument is that of 2,386 who bothered to vote in Castle, over 51 per cent didn’t want the candidate who won, and for the benefit of political balance the same thing happened, but this time to the Tories, in Broadwater. An AV or second choice voting system might change that, of the 691 who didn’t vote for either Rogers or Humphreys, had they been given a second choice of vote, might that have taken either candidate over the magic 51 per cent? Whatever the turn-out, once you get over that magic number, I clearly feel any winning candidate then has a clear mandate. It is a fairer way but has the theory become flawed by the way the Lib Dems are viewed nationally?

As I’ve said before, we have a large number of hardworking local Lib Dems, including Robin Rogers, but have Nick Clegg’s political ambitions ruined many local political careers? Careers which were helping move this town forward.

A shame if that is the case and perhaps a bit of a blinkered attitude on the subject of AV? The ongoing saga of the future of Worthing’s theatres appears to moving in a positive direction. The proposed formation of the Worthing Theatres Trust under the leadership of Jon Woodley, Roy Stannard, John Bunker and Helen Scott personally fills me with more confidence than anything or anybody the council could currently muster up. There is an open meeting this Saturday, at Broadwater Manor School, at 11am where the Theatre Trusts will outline their vision for the future of the three Worthing Theatres. No closures, no demolition, no redevelopment, just proper profit-making amenities, run by people who know how the business works. Once everything is put in black and white, the council should move quickly to take the project forward as soon as possible.