Council Elections 2 May 2019

The following article was written by Richard Honnoraty

Local council elections take place on Thursday 2 May. This is an important opportunity for people to influence the nature and delivery of local services. It is also an opportunity for those political parties advocating regional government and devolution to get their arguments across to the public and to gauge the impact of their campaigns.

The case for devolution is a strong one and the economic benefits could be considerable, however, the engagement of the public so far in this campaign appears, to me, to be woeful. The election campaign as a whole looks lacklustre. Regionalists have a problem because there is no regional authority and so no regional elections or forum to debate regional issues.

If this election is simply about how inadequate local authorities cope within the appalling constraints placed upon them, then we are going to make little progress. In my opinion, it is up to the candidates to say, not just how they will run their authorities within the current constraints, but also to demand the tools they require to deliver the services that the public needs. Devolution is just one of these tools.

It would be a tragedy for the UK’s democracy if these local elections suffered a low turnout due to public dissatisfaction with the disastrous Brexit implementation process. “Brexit noise” tends to drown out other issues but the fact that the process has not yet been successfully concluded is entirely down to the incompetence of the Westminster government. There are many other issues out there as well as Brexit and some of these may be significantly more important. The government needs reminding that it cannot focus on Brexit at the expense of everything else.

I am not expecting much from these elections. It would be good if we had a little more political diversity and it would be helpful to our cause if devolution became the hot topic that it should be. It is also worth remembering that councillors are often faced with difficult choices and have to do a difficult job often with limited resources. These elections also provide us with the opportunity to show our support for our local authorities and the democratic processes that underpin them, so get out there and vote on Thursday!

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