Former Alderney politician wants UK to intervene after cancelled election

The UK is being asked to appoint a commissioner to run Alderney after a lack of candidates cancelled its recent election.

Only four nominations were submitted for five positions, meaning candidates were elected by default and one seat remains unfilled.

Former Alderney States member Robert McDowell said: "The UK should appoint a commissioner to run Alderney for a period of two or three years with some appropriate advice, so that the necessary governance changes can be made, such that the running of the island will be more efficient, more prompt and at a lower cost than currently.

"The current states will be unable to make those changes."

Elections in Alderney take place every two years to elect 50% of the 10-strong Assembly.

A by-election to fill the one seat that remains vacant will take place in February.

The President of the States of Alderney, William Tate, said: "The appointment of a commissioner will not solve the problem. The problem is our responsibility to get people encouraged and excited enough to want to step forward.

"The involvement of the UK is a very delicate issue and there are provisions where in extreme circumstances that could happen. But we have to put our own house in order, we don't want to be having to look externally and we have the people here, and we have the ability, and we will resolve the problem."

Islanders were due to take to the polls on 26 November. States member Alex Snowdon described the fact there was no contest as "a sad day for democracy".

He told ITV News: "In normal years for five seats you'd potentially have 12-15 people standing, and you'd have a proper election with manifestos going out.

"This is tremendously low and very disappointing because there is not a single vote cast for those candidates."

Ten politicians are elected to represent the interests of the 2,000 people who live in Alderney. Credit: ITV Channel TV

Alderney resident Edward Hill said: "I don't think people can afford to get involved. The job takes about 40 hours a week and the salary is only £9,400.

"Secondly, there is a general belief that nothing is going to change, they can't get anything done and it's a total waste of time.

"I think they need to review how many states members there are, I think there are far too many, and if you reduced the amount and paid people a decent wage, you might get more interest and more might get done.

"There was a recent attempt at a recruitment campaign, but with the qualities they listed, it was like you were applying for the elite graduate training scheme for Goldman Sachs."

Edward thought about standing but said he was barred "because they have ridiculous requirements, including proof of three-year residency, which is not even linked to how much tax you pay."

The UK Ministry of Justice, which oversees the Channel Islands, said in a statement: "We stand ready to support Alderney in ensuring the good government of the island.

"We are pleased to see elected officials on the island are already planning measures to increase the likelihood of contested elections."

Alderney States member, Alex Snowdon, described the cancelled election as "a sad day for democracy". Credit: ITV Channel TV

Like Alderney, Sark was also forced to cancel its recent election as only five candidates put themselves forward for nine vacancies available on Chief Pleas.

Politicians in Sark don't even get a salary, and since 2018 there have been five uncontested by-elections and one uncontested general election.

In contrast to Sark and Alderney, Guernsey's last election was well contested - with 119 candidates standing for 38 seats.

It was the first time islanders were able to elect politicians on an island-wide basis.

Jersey is due to debate whether to reintroduce island-wide voting later this month.