Local Votes in many areas today

Many parts of Britain have local elections or referenda today.

Naturally with our London-centric media, and because it is the biggest single election which takes place in the UK, the most attention has gone to the election for London Mayor.

But there are also elections in many other parts of the country - for example, all those English district councils which come up by thirds have an election for one seat in all their three-member wards today.

And a number of large towns and cities are voting on whether to replace their council leader by a directly-elected Mayor.

These are local votes to decide how the local city, borough or district should be run. Unfortunately it is likely that various cretins in the media will describe these local polls as "this year's main test of the popularity" of national politicians. Well they're not. They are the one real opportunity to hold the LOCAL COUNCIL to account.

Copeland does not, sadly, have local elections this year. If it did, that would give the voters an opportunity to get what the Whitehaven News, the opposition here in Copeland, and even an anonymous Labour councillor have called for - a change in the leadership of one of the three worst-run councils in the country. (That statement is based on the findings of a survey of local voters commissioned by the last Labour government.)

Local polls are an opportunity to vote on the manifesto of local parties for your own community. For example, the policies which the local Conservative team is offering in Carlisle today are

* NO COUNCIL TAX INCREASE for the next two years



* A focus on key projects:

City Swimming pool - Transport hub - City Centre Bid.

Local elections are also an opportunity to keep the good councillors regardless of their party and replace the less good ones. Without wishing to imply anything about the other candidates who are standing today, I'm going to mention two local councillors who particularly impressed me while I was campaigning with them on the doorstep over the past few weeks.

Helen Irving is standing for election in Ulverston, and Fiona Robson is standing for election in Carlisle's Yewdale ward. Both are hard-working councillors: both are caring people who know the wards where they are standing like the backs of their hands, and are liked and respected by many people of all political persuasions.

Ulverston and Carlisle will be well served if Helen Irving and Fiona Robson are elected today: every locality with elections will be well served if more caring, hard-working and sensible people like them are elected.

And whatever your views, if you have elections in your area today, the most important thing you can do is turn out to vote.

People have died for your right to vote: don't waste it.


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