Local knowledge

Share this article
Have your say

Why did large swathes of voters refuse to participate in the experiment on direct elections to health boards? The low turnout in 2010 was not in itself a good enough reason for the Scottish Government to abandon the principle altogether.

But I still take issue with some of the points Lesley Riddoch has made (Perspective, 11 November). Relatively small numbers voting in local elections is nothing new.

In the days before the Wheatley reforms in the 1970s there was no great enthusiasm for participating in annual elections to the plethora of town councils that had been around in some cases for more than a century.

It is interesting that the 
biggest percentage vote in local elections in recent years was when they took place on the same day as elections to the Scottish Parliament.

It was well over 50 per cent at the poll that took place in 1999. But the fiasco over large numbers of spoiled papers in the elections of 2007 prompted a change.

It seems we can no longer be trusted to work out how to vote for a parliamentary representative and councillors on the same day. Lesley is partly right in that the government made a serious mistake over the method of health board elections. There should have been a local element in the method of voting.

Fife Council, for example, has seven area committees and these units could have been used as a basis for electing health board members. Instead, each household in Fife was given a short biography of more than 20 candidates and asked to choose on that basis. Most of these people would be unknown to the vast majority of voters.

The introduction of a local element would have given the process more credibility while accepting that Fife itself is about the right size for a viable health unit.

Bob Taylor

Shiel Court