I sent the following letter to the editor of the Wentworth Courier today. It refers to the current control of Waverley Council being decided by an annual draw from the hat – as there are effectively two sides on Council each with half the number of Councillors. Waverley Council annually elects its Mayor, and upon a tied vote, a name is drawn out of a hat. This has happened twice in the last two years.
The quite unsatisfactory part of it is that the Mayor, as chair of the Council, has a deliberate vote and a casting vote. Hence, if Councillors act as coordinated teams, control of the Council rests on the annual draw of the hat.
It’s ridiculous that control of Waverley Council now rests on an annual draw of the hat. There are two solutions – remove the Mayor’s casting vote in the event of a tied vote (which needs legislative change), or change the number of Councillors so that there’s an odd number elected. A directly-elected mayor won’t necessarily solve the problem – as they could face a hostile Council.
It’s much easier to have an odd number of Councillors – say 9 or 15 in total. Retaining proportional representation would mean having 3 or 5 wards. This change could be introduced next Council election following a constitutional poll if needed. There’s no need to keep the current arrangements which could lead to a half-half split Council in future elections.