A TOTAL of ten councillors have already been elected unopposed in Wrexham and Flintshire ahead of May’s local elections.
It means more than 20,000 voters across both areas have been denied the chance to have their say on who represents them due to only one candidate standing in their ward.
In Wrexham, there will be eight councillors returning to their seats without having to canvass for votes, including incumbent independent council leader Mark Pritchard in Esclusham.
Others who have been automatically elected in the county borough include the current Mayor of Wrexham Ronnie Prince (Ind) in Cartrefle and executive board member Terry Evans (Ind) in Chirk South.
Debbie Wallice (Cons) in Borras Park, Trevor Bates (Ind) in Dyffryn Ceiriog, Andy Williams (Ind) in Garden Village and David Bithell (Ind) in Stansty will also not be required to go to the polls on May 5.
The two uncontested seats in Flintshire will see Steve Copple (Ind) elected to the county council to represent Caerwys, replacing Liberal Democrat Tudor Jones, while Mike Allport (Ind) will be re-elected unopposed in Higher Kinnerton.
Jessica Blair, director of Electoral Reform Society (ERS) Cymru, said 74 councillors would be elected unopposed across Wales, leaving residents without a say over who represents them and their local areas.
“New analysis by ERS Cymru estimates that 106,920 Welsh voters will be denied a say across Wales with elections effectively cancelled across the country.
“These elections haven’t been cancelled due to a natural disaster or in response to the pandemic.
“It’s the way we elect councillors that means that councillors will be keeping their seats without a vote being cast.
“Uncontested seats are yet another symptom of our broken first past the post system – one which creates safe seats for some candidates and parties but no-go areas for others.”
Ms Blair said uncontested seats come about partly due to the difficulty of beating an incumbent councillor.
It means when big swings in votes are needed to take a seat, potential challengers look at the numbers required and decide it isn’t worth campaigning.
She claimed a change in the voting system would help to provide more choice for residents.
“We now have an opportunity to break this unhealthy cycle and give local democracy a much-needed shot in the arm.
“For the first time, local councils in Wales have the opportunity to switch over to the more proportional single transferable vote, which is already used in Scotland.
“This would mean politicians will have to fight for every vote as well as ending the scourge of safe seats and travesty of contests regularly being won without a single vote being cast.”