Changes needed to deferred parish elections says Constable

Sun 12 Nov 2023

Changes are needed to the way deferred elections for douzeniers can be requested at parish meetings, Vale Senior Constable Richard Leale has said. He is now pressing the authorities to consider amending the law on this.

Senior Constable Richard Leale pictured outside Quayside

Mr Leale's comments follow some controversy at the Vale's parish meeting earlier this month when the required seven electors requested a deferment although many – perhaps most – of the estimated 60 people who turned up wanted to go ahead that night. 

The agenda included electing four douzeniers from six candidates (more details below). The meeting appeared to favour selecting candidates by a simple show of hands. However, the law allows for seven electors to request a deferment which, if made, has to implemented. As a result, a "mini general election" will be held on Wednesday to select four douzeniers for the next four years. 

"It doesn't seem right to us that only seven parishioners can stand up and, without even stating a good reason, force a deferral while none of the 50-odd other people at the meeting have any say in the matter," said senior constable Richard Leale, in an article in yesterday’s Guernsey Press.

Magic number
"Why is seven the magic number? No vote can be taken. It's just a fait accompli. We think others who have taken the time to attend the meeting should be able to challenge a request for a deferral.

"If you look at it democratically, shouldn't the other people present also have their voices heard and be able to have some say over whether there should be a deferral?"

A number on the douzaine believe the process puts too much power in too few hands and Mr Leale has raised the issue with the States Assembly & Constitution Committee which, in turn, has passed it to Policy and Resources, which has direct responsibility for these matters.

Mr Leale said he was keen to start a conversation with P&R and the other parishes on this because significant issues were at stake.

"Clearly, any election for parish officials has to be democratic and the issue of who – and how many – individuals can override the wishes of a majority present at a properly convened and publicised meeting is important. 

"Also, if an election is deferred, should the issue of cost, office and volunteer time be taken into account? There's also the issue of postal voting. That's allowed for general elections but not deferred parish elections although they follow the general principles of a general election with a printed form and secret ballot.

"All in all, it's time that this was looked at again," he said. 

  •  Vale electors go to the polls on Wednesday 15 November at the Vale Douzaine room, which will be open from 8am until 8pm. The official notice is below and details of the candidates can be found by clicking on the image here:

The official notice convening the election:

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