Wiltshire

Uncontested Wiltshire Council seats leave thousands without a vote

Up to 24,000 people in Wiltshire will be unable to vote in next month's local elections due to uncontested seats.

Of the 98 Wiltshire Council seats up for election, six are uncontested and all are Conservative controlled.

The seats include Warminster West, Tidworth, Ludgershall and Perham Down, The Collingbournes and Netheravon, Winterslow, Fovant and Chalke Valley.

Carlton Brand, the council's chief returning officer, said it was "not democratic" and disenfranchising.

'Parties stretched'

For there not to be an election in a particular seat, the sitting councillor or potential candidate has to be nominated and then opposed.

According to BBC West politics editor Paul Barltrop, this "doesn't happen often".

"Put simply their (the Conservatives) opponents haven't put up candidates because they think they're going to lose," he said.

"And all parties are fairly thinly stretched at this time - 98 seats being contested across Wiltshire, that is a lot to cover."

The last local election was held in Wiltshire four years ago, when the county council and North Wiltshire, Kennet, Salisbury and West Wiltshire district councils came together to form a unitary authority - Wiltshire Council.

In that 2009 election, according to a council spokeswoman, there were no seats uncontested.

The Liberal Democrats fielded candidates for all six of the now uncontested wards and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) fielded four.

'A lot of effort'

The Labour Party, however, only put up a candidate for the Ludgershall and Perham Down seat and took less than 10% of the votes.

A Labour Party spokesman said: "Labour is standing 61 candidates across Wiltshire, a coverage of 62%.

"We are also pleased that this represents an increase of 6% from our position in 2009."

And a spokesman for UKIP said: "We contested 45 seats in 2009 and we're contesting 10 more seats this time.

"We're putting a lot of effort into Wiltshire."

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