CABINET CALL: By South Holland District Coun Christine Lawton
The democratic process has been in the spotlight over in the past year with the Scottish Independence referendum, the General Election and the forthcoming EU ‘once in a generation’ referendum.
There will also be elections for the Police and Crime Commissioners on May 5, so it will be a busy time for Psephologists, candidates and most importantly voters.
At SHDC we have been running presentations to local students from year nine, introducing them to local democracy via the work local authorities do, explaining how the system works and how this relates to everyday life.
These events cover basic information such as the ward system, the number of councillors and the areas in which we can make decisions and where we cannot.
The facts are important - 37 councillors working across 18 wards which stretch from Crowland to Sutton Bridge.
The Cabinet system we operate under, the generally cross-party support we all subscribe to locally and the help and advice local councillors can provide.
We sometimes ask students if they feel the district council has any relevance to their lives.
The answer is often ‘no’ so we ask ‘hands up if you order a take-away, visit a restaurant, use a taxi or the Castle Sports swimming pool? Plenty of hands then go up - so what we do can have an impact on your daily life.
I urge young and old to ensure they are on the electoral roll - it only takes a few minutes to register online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote, or get a paper copy by contacting SHDC.
Democracy is not a panacea for all our ills, nor is it as simple as ticking a box once every five years.
Making a choice at the ballot box means thinking about the candidates, checking their manifestos, and asking if they chime with your priorities. In our presentations, we have tried to demonstrate the relevance of local government in a light hearted but informative approach. I hope we have succeeded, if only to a small extent.
I know councillors who took part have found it stimulating and look forward to repeating the exercise next year. But I can’t speak for the students though!