St Albans Conservatives huffing and puffing after council debate voting systems over air quality

Air pollution is a hot topic in St Albans.

Air pollution is a hot topic in St Albans. - Credit: Archant

St Albans Conservatives are huffing and puffing after the council chose to debate voting systems ahead of air quality.

At a meeting on Wednesday, July 12, district councillors discussed the Greens’ motion on voting systems before debating local air quality.

Tory councillor Alun Davies said: “I was extremely frustrated when some councillors wanted to talk about whether Parliament should change our voting system.

“What residents talk to me about is air quality near St Albans city station, along St Peter’s Street and on Catherine Street. Many local parents are rightly concerned about the health of their children on the school run.”

Cllr Jock Wright said: “It definitely raises questions about where certain councillors’ priorities lie.”

The air quality motion, which was eventually passed, means drivers may not be allowed to idle outside schools and hospitals in the future.

Lib Dem councillor Chris Davies said: “Statistics tell us air pollution is harmful to the young, elderly, and those with respiratory or heart problems. Although the council has launched an ‘anti-idling campaign’, this is reliant on the public goodwill.”

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The voting system motion, which was not passed, was listed first for debate, ahead of the air quality motion.

It suggested the whole UK adopt proportional representation to replace the current first-past-the-post system.

Green councillor Simon Grover, who proposed the motion, said: “We have a minority government, and our MPs are not being voted for by the majority of people.

“It’s the job of local government to represent the voice of local people, and pressure the government to change the law.

“It was really interesting when councillors stood up and said it was silly, and made jokes. They seemed to think it was amusing.

“Whatever way we look at it, our voting system is failing people.”

First-past-the-post, which is used for both Westminster and English and Welsh local elections, hands victory to the candidate with the most votes.

While proportional representation requires the winning candidate to have won a majority of the votes, something Cllr Grover did not manage at his last election, where he won by a margin of six votes.

But he remained steadfast, saying: “At least the system would be fair.”