Democracy has shown us the unexpected will of the people

This article first appeared in the Ludlow Advertiser on 8 December 2016.

In politics, it has been a long and curious year. When people who don’t usually get engaged with politics turn out to vote, democracy can throw up unexpected results.

A majority of people in the UK voted for Brexit, including here in Shropshire. David Cameron walked away from his job and Theresa May took the keys to Number 10. Donald Trump is preparing to move into the White House. None of these events were predicted. All will change our futures.

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Shropshire Council meetings – are they a waste of time?

The answer is yes, according to Councillor Steve Charmley, the deputy leader of the council. We know his opinion because he tweeted it during the full council meeting on 22 September.

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Councillor Charmley made the front page of the Shropshire Star with his tweet. The newspaper also quoted him saying that councillors are using meetings to “score cheap political points”. He is wrong.

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Shropshire Council – Bishop’s Castle win for Lib Dem Jonny Keeley

Jonny Keeley, a member of the band Fight the Bear, has been elected to represent Bishop’s Castle and the surrounding villages on Shropshire Council. His majority is 442.

A couple months ago, Charlotte Barnes unfortunately had to stand down as Shropshire Councillor for the Bishop’s Castle division triggering a by-election. Yesterday, a substantial majority of voters supported Jonny as her replacement.

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Constituency shakeup – Ludlow joins Leominster and Bridgnorth and Much Wenlock move into Wrekin

In 2011, MPs decided to cull their number in the Commons from 650 to 600 across the UK. The reasons given were to reduce costs, to make parliament more efficient and to even up the size of the constituencies. The suspicion at the time, and it lingers in some quarters, was that the move would boost the longer-term electoral chances of the Conservatives.

The Electoral Commission, which has been chewing over these matters for a while, has now published its proposals for consultation. The Commission’s plans have major implications for Shropshire. If these proposals go ahead, Ludlow will partner up with Leominster in a new constituency. Bridgnorth will join Wellington in an enlarged Wrekin constituency.

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