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Local elections are just as important as the big one

From The Chief Executive’s Office
by city council chief executive Colin Carmichael

With the general election dominating the news, it’s perhaps inevitable that local elections are being a little overlooked. So this is a good moment to remind everybody that on Thursday, May 7, not only will you be electing your MP to represent you, but also your local Canterbury city councillors and – in some parts of the district – parish councillors too. And in my opinion, local councillors take decisions that affect the way you live your life just as much, if not more, than Westminster politicians.

It was great to see the Gazette last week giving over two pages to the list of candidates for the city council election, along with a summary of some of the key issues at this election. With so many different levels of decision making in this country, it can be confusing to know who is responsible for what. So when you’re casting your vote in the city council election, what services should you have in mind? Well, we run more than 70 different services – it’s not just about bin collections, important though they are. From parks to play areas for children and caring for our coastline, we look after the local environment. We entertain you by running venues such as the Marlowe Theatre, the King’s Hall and museums and help keep you fit in our leisure centres. We also keep you safe through CCTV and our hygiene inspections of food businesses and look after vulnerable people by running sheltered housing and administering council tax benefit and housing benefit. And we approve the number of new houses and decide planning applications. It’s also worth pointing out a few things we don’t do, such as pothole repairs, street lighting, libraries and schools, all of which are provided by Kent County Council but which many people think we are responsible for. We spend millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to look after and improve the quality of life in the district. Your vote on May 7 will help decide who is in charge of spending that money for the next four years.

Herne Bay Gazette, April 23rd 2015

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