Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Parish council referendums

Two of our six demands involve the use of referenda and over the years the government has used them over devolution, an alternative voting system and of course, most recently, leaving the EU.

Critics often say that holding frequent referenda is unworkable, and so it would be without checks and balances and bench marks that have to be met before they take place.

As this link explains Parish referendums are alive and well in Hadleigh.


For some reason, I must get fixed, links don't seem to work on this blog so here is the essence:-

It turns out that all is not well in Hadleigh. The town council has been riven with factional in-fighting. This has percolated into the pages of the Suffolk Free Press and the East Anglian Daily Times. Now a group of well-organised dissidents, under the banner “Hadleigh Together”, have forced a referendum of confidence in the town council, alleging mismanagement and that it is dysfunctional. The town goes to the polls on Thursday. Both sides had issued leaflets putting their case. The dissidents’ case can be found here and here.

I can honestly say that I had never heard of such a thing. So I did some digging. And I found out that I know rather less about the English political system than I thought. For parish residents have long had the right to call for parish polls on whatever topic they choose, provided that a third of electors present at a parish meeting are in favour (and not fewer than 10). At this point the local district council must hold a poll. The result is advisory only.  The Hadleigh Together group have called for just such a parish poll.

This mechanism has been used hundreds of times over the years (no one seems to know how often, no one seems to have been interested enough to keep track). The subject matter has been many and varied: at least one parish conducted a parish poll on whether to hold a referendum on EU membership – it passed convincingly, as it happens.

All this time commentators have been telling us that referendums weren’t a longstanding part of British politics and it turns out they were wrong. Voters up and down the country have been passing judgements on car parking arrangements, low level radioactive waste and whether to allow a Tesco’s for many years. No doubt you all knew this. I didn’t.

The people's increased participation in our democracy can best be achieved through referenda as the people of Hadleigh are showing.


  1. Did any of these referenda change anything?

  2. Probably not but I'm exposing the principle and would also comment that the use of referenda in our fourth and fifth demands certainly would given enough people voted to meet the bench marks we suggest.