Why councils matter

As funny as the Handforth Parish Council meeting was, it's important to remember that parish councils and all other councils are an essential cog in the lively machine that is the United Kingdom, and have a real impact on people's lives.

Let's dive into why that is.

Social care, education, transport and housing. These critical issues are close to everyone's heart and come up as key points in almost every general election. Another thing they have in common is that they are primarily the responsibilities of our local councils or authorities, not Westminster.

Councils vary in their power, depending on their structure; from parish level up to county level, and other types of councils that sit in-between. Councils are one of the most accessible forms of government.

Many council wards have more than one councillor and often have much smaller representation areas than constituencies, which allows residents to contact one of many representatives when action is needed on local issues.

So don't let Handforth Parish Council set a bad example; if you want to make a change that will improve people's day-to-day lives, a council should be your first port of call.

Your councillor is very different from your MP - there's a high chance your local councillor is likely to live close to you. They might even be your neighbour. They're going to have much more insight into the smaller local issues that affect your everyday life.

That pothole on your street? They had to drive into that too. The litter building up on the pavement? They saw it when they were walking their dog.

This will surely make them more accessible, more understanding of your issues, and given their particular powers and area of representation; they'll be much in a much stronger position to get your problem resolved.

Depending on how your council is structured, they can repair roads, fund social care, and build more houses. These local issues can affect people much more than dominant national issues, like Brexit.

The politics of local councils are so different to that of Westminster. Luckily, most councils aren't as partisan as Parliament, and I hope to keep it this way. All parties having an open dialogue and talking frankly with each other allows for more effective governing and a much more pleasant experience for everyone involved.

Credit - Pixabay

Owing to turnout and local campaigning, results in council elections can bring up something very different to the national picture, too; with Residents Associations, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats, all having a strong presence on local councils.

Given the smaller electorate, your vote has so much more impact on the result than it does on a national level.

It's unfortunate that council elections might struggle to get half the turnout that a general election does. Your council's decision will generally have a much more direct impact on your life than the government does, but yet people aren't as interested in them.

I'd even go as far as to say that some people think that councils don't matter; and I declare that they are wrong!

"Get Potholes Done!" may not be as catchy, but I think perhaps it would affect our daily lives even more so than the original slogan.

That's why it's crucial that you vote in upcoming local elections on the 6th of May. Encourage more people to do the same, and help give council elections the gravity they deserve!

Register to vote here: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

George is a conservative councillor and deputy chairman of Dartford Conservatives. He co-founded the Young Conservative Network and has a career in financial technology. George has a passion for foreign affairs, particularly American politics and enjoys reading and walking his dogs.

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