GERALD Duke’s letter, (‘The bare minimum’ June 30) is highly critical of Dorset Council’s actions regarding two potentially substantial housing developments in Bridport and Dorchester.

What are being proposed are controversial and redolent of the situation 10 years ago when Bridport was fighting West Dorset District Council over its plans for a St Michael’s Street development and here in Dorchester we were battling with WDDC over its planned redevelopment of Charles Street which many considered a waste of public money.

A small group called ‘Public First’ raised awareness of the way First Past the Post (FPTP) grossly distorts voting outcomes. For instance, in the 2011 WDDC election, Conservative candidates received 43% of total votes cast and were awarded 67% (32) of the seats available. Other parties received 57% of total votes cast and were awarded only 33% (16) of seats available! A Conservative Cabinet then dictated all decisions. This was an affront to the aims and ambitions of the electorate.

Things don’t change. In its first election last year, Conservative candidates received 39% of total votes cast, were awarded 52% of seats available (43) whilst all other party candidates received a total of 61% of total votes cast, 48% of seats awarded (39).

I am pleased to see that Labour is considering electoral reform and the adoption of proportional representation (PR). I can only conclude that Gerald has experienced a ‘Damascene Conversion’ now that he is looking at life from the perspective of FPTP’s ‘victims’ and not its oppressors. I’m starting to like him.

Because our system of FPTP encourages only two diametrically opposing views, less extreme alternatives cannot be accommodated. In other countries where PR has been in use for decades, Cabinets comprise a rainbow of different policies. FPTP proponents describe this as a hindrance to decision-making but this neglects PR’s ability to achieve consensus and shared responsibility. We could do with a bit of that now!

Mike Joslin

Garfield Avenue