Rutland was a Parliamentary Constituency in its own right until 1918, when it became part of the Rutland and Stamford constituency. In 1983, following further boundary changes it became part of the Rutland and Melton constituency. From 1983-1997 the Constituency comprised the District of Rutland, the Borough of Melton, and the Borough of Charnwood wards of East Goscote, Queniborough, Six Hills, Syston, and Thurmaston. From 1997 until 2010 changes meant the Constituency comprised the County of Rutland, the Borough of Melton, and the District of Harborough wards of Billesdon, Easton, Houghton, Scraptoft, Thurnby, and Tilton. Currently, the Constituency comprises the County of Rutland, the Borough of Melton, and the District of Harborough wards of Billesdon, Nevill, Thurnby and Houghton, and Tilton. Further boundary changes are are under consideration by the Local Government Boundary Commission and will be published on 8th May 2018.
Rutland & Melton Constituency has long been regarded as a Conservative Safe Seat, with Sir Michael Latham winning the seat in 1983 and 1987 and Sir Alan Duncan holding it since 1982. Since 1992, the Conservatives have consistently gained a high vote share (1992 – 59%, 1997 – 45.8%, 2001 – 48.1%, 2006 – 51.2%, 2010 – 51.2%, 2015 – 55.6% and 2017 – 62’8%) with Labour generally coming a poor second with the sole exceptions of 2010 (Lib-Dem) and 2015 (UKIP). It’s said that if you tie a blue ribbon around a rat, the electors of Rutland will vote for it.
The Council follows a similar pattern. Before boundary changes and ward consolidations between Council Elections in 1999 and 2003, the Council make-up was reasonably balanced politically.
The Council elections of 2003 brought a preponderance of Conservatives to the Council Chamber (13 Conservatives, 4 Lib-Dems and 8 Independents) and the Conservative margin has increased at each election meaning that at the time of writing, they hold 17 of the Council Seats and control the Cabinet.
It has to be said that there is a certain amount of voter apathy in Rutland, especially with respect to Council Elections and the most recent election to elect a Councillor to the Oakham South-East Ward, which resulted in the election of Adam Lowe, an Independent, (Conservative Loss) attracted a turn-out of less than a quarter of the Ward Electorate. This, hot on the heels of this by-election being caused by resignation of the previous incumbent over the One-Way issue with Oakham SE ward being one most heavily represented in the Petition.
As can be seen in the graphic below, the Conservatives have controlled the Council for a very long time and this has been reinforced by Rutland being a safe Conservative seat for even longer. Unless Rutlanders realise that there is absolutely no point complaining in the local papers about Council policies and then going out and voting exactly the same Councillors whose policies they are complaining about back in time after time, or, even worse, allowing Councillors to be repeatedly re-elected unopposed, then nothing will ever change. In fact, by voting the way they do, Rutlanders, whatever they write in the local papers, are actually endorsing those policies they claim to reject.
2019 will mark 20 years since we last had a balanced Council Chamber. Let’s make it the year that things change for the better!