Thursday, 5th May 2022 will see elections for local council members up and down the country. A recent poll on a community Facebook page asked people how they intended to vote…and included the option “not wasting my time voting.”
In my view, voting is never a waste of time. Research by the Voting Counts website indicates that non-voters form the biggest single group. If all those non-voters voted, the political landscape could change completely. Even if you don’t like any of the candidates and can’t get behind any of the parties, a spoiled ballot paper conveys your message more strongly than not voting does.
Why vote in a local election?
Voting in a local election is personal power. It’s your chance to influence how council money is spent. When I say, “council money,” I really mean, “your money.” This is because council money is made up of the council tax you have paid, along with money you’ve paid to park your car, and any other money the council has collected from you. We give our money to the council to spend on the services we need, like council housing, bin collections, events, sustainability projects, arts initiatives and more.
So when we vote, we vote for the person who we think will spend our money in the right way to benefit us and the community we live in.
In my own experience, local councillors have addressed traffic safety (particularly outside schools), parking issues, sustainability, planning and new buildings. Working together – and sometimes challenging each other – councillors make big decisions that affect the whole area. These are important responsibilities that will make differences that affect real people at a local level.
Are national issues important in a local election?
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this week, the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, Douglas Ross, said that he believed local elections were only about local government.
But I beg to differ. Whatever the local elections are supposed to be for, it seems to me likely that they’ll reflect the voters’ views of Westminster too. The local election results may well give confidence to MPs, cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister….or take the confidence away.
In these times of price rises, division and potential threats from overseas, it’s never been more important for each of us to have our voice heard. I believe local votes will resonate nationally as well in our own communities.
- glen-carrie-9xp4F57ATzs-unsplash: Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash