In the late 1990s I stood as an independent candidate in two by-elections for Alton Town Council.

At both elections I polled more votes than the Labour candidate but I did not win in our first past-the-post system.

My main motivation in standing as an independent was that the town council at the time was a one-party state with no opposition.

The two most important things I learned from these experiences are that you need to have easy access to cash for election literature and that you are on your own, whereas the political parties have an army of supporters who can put boots on the ground to deliver leaflets and canvass.

Local politics in Alton certainly appear to have been toxic for some time but by all accounts this has been caused by arrogance from the current majority party that they must get their way.

Depolitising the town council is not the answer to the problem. Do we want only independent candidates who can afford to stand for election?

A change to our voting system to proportional representation is the answer.

Robert Saunders

Former councillor and town mayor

Ogle Road, Southampton