Express & Star comment: Time to go to the polls

It’s time to go to the polls. Our ability to elect community representatives was severely curtailed in 2020, the easing of restrictions means we can once more play an active role in our democracy.

Ballot Box.
Ballot Box.

Local elections are taking place across the region. Politicians of all persuasions are vying for our votes, nailing their political colours to the mast. It is time for us to reflect on the importance of their work as they bid to shape the future.

Housing, development, social care and leisure will be high on the agenda for many, though perhaps these elections have an even greater importance as local officials get to grips with the Brexit fallout and, of course, our pandemic recovery.

Ours is a region that continues to manufacture and there has been disruption as we have created a new trading relationship with Europe and the rest of the world. Businesses need help and support in order for local economies to function at the optimum level. Even more importantly, there has been a remarkable level of disruption caused by the pandemic. The national debt is as large as the value of the national economy and services locally are under strain.

While the Government insists there will not be a return to austerity, the small print shows there will be. Budgets are being cut in almost all areas and services provided by councils are at the sharp end, even though they have already faced huge pressure during the past 13 years.

At such time, it is important for all of us to reflect on who is best placed to manage such complex matters, while also planning for the future. Politicians at a local level hold huge sway. They are the ones who adjudicate on contentious planning matters, on such issues of waste disposal, or on where the axe must fall when the inevitable cuts are made. Voting is not a right granted in all parts of the world and we should not take it for granted.

While it is easy to overlook the importance of local politics, the role played is so important in our everyday lives that everybody should pay close attention to their local candidates and, when the time comes, cast their votes.

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