Local Green Party activist on why local elections matter…
Many people do not take an active part in elections and even less so in local council elections. Local elections may look unimportant compared to the national elections, yet councils decisions will have a more direct impact on your day to day lives. Of course we all like to moan about councillors and councils, about what they do or don’t do, but don’t think about how we can have a say on who and what councils do through the ballot box. After all it is our democratic right, which people in the past have considered important enough to have fought and died for.
The question is what is important to you and in what way the people in your local council could effect those things? Is your single vote able to make a difference? On it’s own it may seem that your one vote will have no impact, but what you have to realise is that you are not the only person voting and if enough people vote for a particular person then this will impact the election results and make politicians notice. Which means that even if you vote for someone who does not get elected your vote with will help reduce the margin by which the winning candidate won, making them very aware that come the next elections they will have had to listen to the people they serve (that’s you!) and that can help influence the agenda during their term of office.
Another aspect you may not have thought of is getting involved with your council and MP in letting them know what is important to you. You could even go a step further and get involved in politics yourself: do you have a passion for something like say the environment, would you like to make a difference? You could join a party and help campaign for a better world or stand as a candidate.
But what about councils, what are they responsible for?
Our local councils are made up of two tiers. There is the County council, in our case the Derbyshire County Council and the there is the borough council either North East Derbyshire or Chesterfield Town Council depending on where you live.
What are they responsible for?
The County Council are responsible for include
- fire and public safety
- social care
- waste management
- trading standards
And much more. You can find a full list here: https://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/council/council-works/departments/our-departments.aspx
The day to day work is done by council employees, but the key policy decision are made by the elected councils members and our structured into the full council of all members, the cabinet which is formed by the majority political party, and committees which make decisions on separate aspects of business and advise the Cabinet or full council when necessary.
Borough Councils are responsible for things like:
- rubbish collection
- Council Tax collections
- planning applications
You may also be in a Parish, Community or town council. This will have responsibilities for:
- public clocks
- bus shelters
- community centres
- play areas and play equipment
- grants to help local organisations
- consultation on neighbourhood planning
These councils will also have full council meeting to make decisions and committees to deal with specific topic and policies.
Hopefully this gives you an introduction to councils and their structure and gives you an incentive to find out about what they are doing and vote in the coming local elections in an informative way.
Further information can be found here: