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100 Days Later – Local Elections 2019


Is 100 days long enough to bring about any real change?

One of the Cratus team this week takes stock of what’s being going on since May’s elections.

The first 100 days of any new administration is always held up as a key milestone and as we pass the first 100 days since the Local Elections in May, we thought it would be appropriate to ask whether this applied as equally to local government as it does to other walks of life.

As one might expect and as with all things local government, the answer is not so straightforward as a yes or a no.

For those authorities which only have elections once every four years (primarily London and the county councils) and thus can be deemed to be more secure in their position, the first 100 days can be seen as enough because they set the tone for the following three and a half years before electioneering starts up again. This gives the administration an incentive to think strategically over the whole period.

Alternatively, for those authorities which are elected in tranches, the process of bedding in a new administration takes up almost all of that time, and with elections looming just nine months later the idea of being able to think “strategically” (taking brave decisions to you and me) is almost laughable, especially given the current political climate.

If we are to take the most recent set of local elections for instance, the first 100 days saw some councils change hands convincingly, Chelmsford turning Liberal Democrat along with Hinckley & Bosworth, others like Welwyn Hatfield saw the previous Conservative administrations continue as minority administrations and some councils, including Southend-on-Sea and Basildon, started with minority Conservative administrations which were then over-thrown by coalitions of anyone but the Conservatives.

While those changes are not to be seen as negative in and of themselves, the fact that they could all change again in less than a year, just as the new office holders have gotten their feet under the table, answers the initial question about being able to make any real change in the first 100 days – No and actually begs the real question which faces local government outside London at the borough and district level:

Is it time to retire electing in tranches and standardise our electoral system so that all councils elect for a four year term? To ensure stability and allow for strategic decision making – it’s a resounding yes from me!