By CCN, May 3 2017 10:31AM
Normally, they have a low profile in the media and when they are talked about it’s often as a proxy for national politics: a way of measuring the strength of Government and opposition in Parliament. But of course they are a vitally important in their own right. Councils are a fundamental part of British democracy, providing the essential services that citizens rely on every single day. Indeed most of the services we care about most on a day-to-day basis are delivered by local, not national, government.
This year’s local elections in 27 county councils and five county unitary authorities represent the single biggest set of English local elections in any single year. From care services for the elderly, to maintaining local roads, to supporting local growth county councils and county unitaries are delivering services that are key to most to people’s lives, which is why it matters so much that voters are able to make informed choices when choosing their council representatives.
And, with many councils up and down the country facing their biggest budget cuts in the last decade, the stakes couldn’t be higher in this year’s local elections.
At LGiU, we know democracy works best when the public has easily accessible information about local elections and candidates. So as well as looking out for the green shoots of a Liberal Democrat resurgence, watching how well UKIP perform post the EU referendum and assessing the fortunes of the Conservative and Labour parties at this point in the electoral cycle, we will be “Out for the Count,” observing and analysing what these elections mean for local government and the implications the results will have for communities across the UK.
So much of what local government provides goes beyond bin collection and street lighting. When the public vote on 4 May it will be to decide who will run their services, make the decisions that will impact their lives, whether or not their family will receive adequate care in old age, allocate places for schools or work to improve the economic outlook of their local area.
That deserves a higher profile than it generally receives and citizens deserve more information about who they are voting for and what that vote might mean.
The more engagement we have with local elections, the stronger our democracy will be.
Local Government Information Unit (LGiU)