Local council elections: Why putting an X in the box matters
On Thursday (May 6), 143 councils across England – including Hertfordshire and Essex county councils – will be holding elections, and voters have a chance to shape the political landscape.
While General Elections to Parliament at Westminster may capture the public’s imagination, local government polls have a real impact on our day-to-day lives.
Police and crime commissioners set the budget for county forces and can appoint and dismiss chief constables as well as setting law and order priorities.
County councils are responsible for a raft of services including schools, libraries, many roads, public health, trading standards and social care for young and old.
Their roles have been ramped up by the pandemic, where they have often been the first line of response to the ongoing crisis.
Each year, along with district and parish councils, they set precepts that make up the annual council tax bills for households, and the total is a substantial sum to find for many families – it's currently £1,931 for a band D household in Bishop's Stortford.
From this month, they can impose a council tax increase of up to 5% at a time when the cost of living is rising by less than 1% and many workers have had no salary increase and some have even had a pay cut because of coronavirus.
Whether you object to the councils’ spending plans and priorities and want a change, or support the party in charge of substantial budgets, Thursday is the time to make your views known by voting.
Polling stations open at 7am and close at 10pm.