Below is the text of the Rugby Observer article printed on the 27th October (page 11). It reports on my call for open primaries to be used when choosing party candidates for next years local elections.
GIVING voters the power to choose their borough council election candidates is being proposed in a bid to shake-up local politics in Rugby.
Tory councillor Howard Roberts wants to see open primary elections held, whereby the electorate vote for the people they wish to be their candidates in council elections.
Under the present system a small group of party members - sometimes just a handful - select their candidates behind closed doors.
Coun Roberts, Dunchurch and Knightlow representative, has proposed the changes ahead of next May's elections when all seats on Rugby Borough Council will be contested.
He said: "If you look at the very safe seats, the public just get what they are given and have no real say. So I thought, let's make things a bit more exciting.
"We keep hearing about localism and improving participation from local people, and surely anyone who is going to represent their area should want the input of people in their ward right from the start.
"In this year's elections the same party won in 13 of the 16 wards contested in 2003. It shows the reality is the party hierarchy picks who represents us rather than the public.
“When I was selected to be my party candidate there were no more than a handful of people in the room. I would like to see open primaries brought in so that we re-energise the public in the democratic process, giving legitimacy and a stronger mandate to councillors.”
Coun Roberts is appealing for both his Conservative colleagues and members of the Labour and Liberal Democrat groups to back the changes.
Rugby's MP Mark Pawsey was chosen by an open primary, and Coun Roberts said the system ensured the best candidate was chosen rather than the favourite person among a narrow party base.
He added: "The turnout in local elections is often disappointing and I hope open primaries would go some way towards re-engaging the electorate with politicians.
"Holding an open meeting allows residents to meet those who wish to represent them and see them debate local issues before deciding who they would like to be candidate at the election. It is true democracy in action."