MOST electors going to vote next month will find they have no say in who represents them on their local parish council.
There are 41 town and parish councils in the Forest but only two will have elections on May 4 because candidates have not come forward.
It means that of the total of 332 seats that could be up for election, there will only be contests for 15.
Some of the councils – which are funded in part by local taxpayers – have struggled to fill all their seats.
But Gloucestershire County Council chairman Alan Preest, who reprepsents Lydney is particularly concerned over what this lack of interest in local politics will mean for the future.
He said he could not believe the low number of candidates standing in the Forest of Dean and wonders whether people have lost faith in the system.
“It makes you wonder what’s going on when the towns are growing as they are and you can’t even get a full slate of candidates.
“That’s a small list for us really. I can’t believe that.
“Especially when you could do with people coming on and gaining a few years of experience at town and parish council level and then move up the ladder.
It worries me what will happen in the future.
“Even Lydney is four or five light on the town council.
It’s worrying. Is it that people have no faith in the local system anymore, I don’t know. Something is not right.
“I’ve done this for 20 years. I was 17 years a Lydney town councillor and it’s worrying not many are willing to put their heads above the parapet.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Forest of Dean district list where there are so few, for instance, Labour candidates there.
It doesn’t seem very good for democracy really.”
Cllr Preest believes there may be a combination of factors contributing to this situation such as apathy among people who don’t believe they can really make a difference at parish level.
He also says the cost of living is having an effect as is negativity on social media.
“There’s bitterness out there, the state of the country, the negativity particularly from some sectors of the media and people have got enough on their plates with the cost of living.
“And social media. You’re criticised if you do, you’re criticised if you don’t. It worries me that at times it can be a thankless job.
“I can’t see many youngsters coming through.
“I find it a little bit sad. There’s enough people out there who seem to want to criticise so this would be the ideal opportunity to put their names forward.”
There are eight candidates competing for seven seats in the East ward for Cinderford Town Council.
They are: Matt Bishop, Chris Brown, Di Martin and Sally Reader for Labour, Independents Jeremy Charlton-Wright and Karen Turner and Tim Holder and Nigel Taylor who have no affiliation.
There are eight candidates standing in English Bicknor which has seven seats.
They are Avril Bowen, Kevin Braithwaite, Harry Cole, Patricia Drinkall, David Gunter, Philip Gwilliam, Peter Warden and Amanda Watkins.
Elections for the 38 seats on the district will also take place on May 4 and all of them will be contested.