Great Yarmouth referendum choices explained

A poster promoting the Great Yarmouth Borough Council referendum on how elections should work.

A poster promoting the Great Yarmouth Borough Council referendum on how elections should work. Picture: GYBC - Credit: Archant

A postal referendum on the frequency of Great Yarmouth Borough Council's elections has get under way as voting packs are being delivered to 73,000 electors in the area.

By Monday all eligible electors should receive a pack containing a covering letter, a postal voting statement, instructions and the postal ballot paper, together with return envelopes.

The referendum question is: 'Should the council change its election cycle to whole council elections every four years or retain the existing system of election by thirds?'

The cost to the taxpayer of holding the ballot is £29,750.

The borough is split into 17 wards represented by up to three councillors who are elected for four years.

Currently the council holds elections by thirds, meaning around one third of the 39 seats come up for election each year for three successive years in four.

Voters should return their completed ballots to the Town Hall by 5pm on September 28.

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Reasons to change to whole council elections:

• A clear mandate from the electorate once every four years would enable the council to adopt a more strategic, long term approach to policy making and focus less on yearly campaigning.

• The results from whole council elections are simpler and more easily understood.

• Potential increased turn out.

• There would be a clearer opportunity for voters to change the political composition of the council once every four years.

• Whole council elections allows for full training of councillors at the start of the four years.

• Holding whole council elections once every four years would result in a significant cashable saving of £50k per annum for the council. (This does not take into account any by-elections within the four years.)

Reasons to keep elections by thirds:

• Elections in three years out of every four provide more chances for voters to influence the political make-up of the council.

• Electing by thirds means there is more continuity of councillors without any chance of them all being replaced in a single election.

• An election by thirds provides a regular newly elected councillors who can bring new ideas to the council.

• More frequent elections keep voters engaged.