On Thursday 2 May, Canterbury goes to the polls to decide who will run our council for the next four years. To some this will be as exciting as documentary on adenoids. To others it will be the culmination of years’ worth of preparation and hundreds of hours pounding the pavements and knocking on doors.
For most people it will simply be a democratic exercise in working out which name to put a cross next to.
- “Heart of the High Street” will disappear as Debenhams set to close
- Supermarket now donates its surplus food to hospice
Unlike the European elections which are now almost certainly taking place, in council elections you get to choose the individual, not just which party you support.
In wards like the one I’m standing in, Westgate, you get to choose more than one person. Thus, you can choose Lib Dem, Conservative, Labour, Green, independent, or any combination of the above.
So how do you make your choice?
Well, party affiliation is obviously important. Most of the parties have produced comprehensive documents stating what they will do if elected. If you agree with their policies, it certainly helps make that decision.
Some people will vote according to a lifelong tribal loyalty to a party. These are the voters most likely to be taken for granted as nobody has to work to get their vote.
Other people will base their voting decision not just on the colour of the rosette, but also on the person wearing it.
There are those of us campaigning in local politics who see becoming a councillor as an honour and a privilege, not a status symbol and an opportunity to strut about being important.
Candidates in the former camp will have spent years working within their communities as school governors, charity volunteers, or organising community events.
Candidates in the latter camp will make a lot of noise about taking part in a couple of litter picks during the run-up to the election, plaster the photos over social media, and then do nothing for four years if elected.
I don’t know about you, but that’s not who I’d want to vote for.
I think councillors should earn their place. For my part I spent approximately a third of my annual leave last year attending meetings as an east Kent hospitals governor. I’m also on the executive group for CHEK, the health campaign group. This is because I believe we should have a new hospital in Canterbury.
I also started up this news website as a way for the community to keep up with the latest news, but also as a platform for representatives from all parties to voice their thoughts on topical issues.
I hope I’ve done enough to convince residents of Westgate Ward to vote for me. I guess I’ll find out next Friday when the result is announced.
Before you go to the polls, maybe just find out a little about the individuals you’re voting for first. It’s not just about the colour of their rosette.