OXFORDSHIRE is facing a ‘democratic deficit’ as 70 per cent of parish and town council wards are set to be uncontested in next month’s local elections.

Across the county, 160 wards will be uncontested, compared to 70 where there will be a battle.

Wards in four districts are up for election on Thursday, May 2.

Cherwell District is the only area in which more areas face a contest than not. There, 19 wards will be uncontested, compared with 32 facing a battle.

But in South Oxfordshire, there are 71 wards that are uncontested, with just 14 would-be councillors battling for their seats. It is a similar picture in the Vale of White Horse, where it is 54 to 13.

Christine Lalley, the County Officer for the Oxfordshire Association of Local Councils labelled it ‘disappointing’ that there are ‘so many uncontested parish council elections in Oxfordshire.’

She said: “Disenchantment with Westminster politics needs to be countered at grass roots, your community needs (people) on it’s parish council.”

But, encouraging people from different backgrounds to put themselves forward, she said the lack of contests could be a sign that people are happy with the way their communities are run.

Meanwhile, one district council seat, that of Eric Batts, is going uncontested too.

Suggesting that the local Liberal Democrats had a candidate ready, he said: “I understand that the opposition failed to put in a nomination paper. It is their loss and our gain.

“I don’t think it is such a big issue as the parish councils.”

Mr Batts, the incumbent Conservative for Kingston Bagpuize, and also Cabinet member for legal and democratic services in the Vale of White Horse, also suggested that the lack of parish contests represented a ‘democratic deficit’.

He added: “People don’t seem to want to put their names forward. A lot don’t know the importance of parish councils.”

Elsewhere, Oxford City Council is not holding local elections; West Oxfordshire has 16 wards uncontested and 11 contested.

West Oxfordshire spokesman Andrew Smith said: “We are responsible for conducting the election on behalf of the parish councils. (Recruitment) is not our role... (that) is down to councils and residents.”

Cherwell, South Oxfordshire and Vale Councils did not comment.