Yesterday’s local authority elections, well the few which actually held elections, gave the people of the island the chance to elect their commissioners and councillors for the next four years, but there is no getting away from the low turnout.
Only nine elections were held across the island on Thursday, three of which were in the capital, with 14 local authorities either being elected unopposed or not even having enough candidates to fill those seats.
Before going any further though, we do just want to congratulate everyone who stood in the elections for stepping forward to seek to make a difference to their town or village and also to the candidates who were successful.
However, the issue remains that not a single one of the areas that were contested saw a turnout of above 50%, that is concerning. Jurby had the highest turnout (41.75%) and both the candidates and the residents who voted deserve credit for that level of engagement but something needs to be done to address this complete apathy around local politics. The outgoing leader of Douglas Council David Christian has repeatedly said he’d favour a ‘four-plus-one’ system for local authorities where there would be four regional authorities and the capital as a standalone authority. But with the lowest turnouts of the night coming in Douglas, even excusing those who were in isolation, the numbers are not good, the island’s capital is hardly a good advert for local democracy or accountability right now.
Another option could be to encourage merging of local authorities in more rural areas, it has been done with Rushen and Arbory and more will likely see this in the coming years. Alternatively, as raised at Castletown’s hustings earlier this week, some local authorities want more powers and funding from central gov to carry out their own improvements to their area and maybe if people could see more physical evidence of the work their local politicians do then they may just engage more with them.
Castletown: Jamie Horton, Elsebeth Cannan, Jimmy Cubbon, Colin Leather, Jerry Ludford-Brookes, Eleanor Quinney, and Carol Quine were elected. Turnout 34.6%.
Douglas Central: Stephen Pitts, John Skinner and Natalie Byron were elected. Turnout 21%.
Douglas East: Andrew Bentley, Devon Watson and Ian Clague were elected. Turnout 17%.
Douglas North: Janet Thommeny, Falk Horning and Peter Washington were elected. Turnout 16%.
Garff, Lonan Ward: Stewart Clague, Melanie Christian and Tim Kenyon were elected. Turnout 34.8%
Jurby: Kelly Charman, Darren Hope, Louise Kennedy, Sarah Jayne-Melvin, and Lee Quaggin were elected. Turnout 41.75%
Onchan: David Quirk, Fenella Logan, Kathryn Williams, Anthony Allen, Zara Lewin, Robin Turton, and Derek Crellin were elected. Turnout 23.95%.
Peel: Mike Wade, Madeline Kelly, Voirrey Heaton, Frank Crompton, Hazel Hannan, Alan Jones and Christine Moughtin were elected. Turnout 38.8%.
Santon: Howard Benson, Ann Davidson, Voirrey Kelly, Amos Kennuagh and Anna-Lucia Parker were elected. Turnout 30.43%.