Tricia Turner: Democracy is precious, so make sure you vote, or even stand for election

Central Beds Council leader Tricia Turner writes her monthly column

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 16th February 2011, 8:45 am

As we approach two years of existence for Central Bedfordshire Council, I would like to begin by thanking the people who have helped this emerging local authority to establish itself. Successful partnership working and community involvement have proved important in creating our identity, along with the hard work put in by many of our councillors.

However, time waits for no man, and on Thursday 5 May we will be holding local elections.

These elections will allow you to decide who would like to represent you on Central Bedfordshire Council, or on the town and parish councils which also hold elections on May 5. The power to decide who will run your local services is in your hands.

Local elections have a huge bearing on the way essential local services are delivered. As a unitary council Central Bedfordshire is responsible for most local public services including education, roads and transport, refuse and recycling, libraries, social care, and housing.

In these financially challenging times, we are looking at alternative ways of providing some of our discretionary services. I would like to thank those people who have stepped forward to help with the continued delivery of services important to them, which we can no longer afford.

From your letters to us and to local newspapers, it is clear there is a spectrum of differing opinions about the difficult decisions the council is set to make. Such political engagement is healthy and it is important this remains in the run up to the election.

Remember, you can only vote in the election if your name is on the Electoral Register. If you have already registered will receive a poll card at the end of March. If you are not registered, we can give you a form to do so or you can download and complete a registration form at www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/council-and-democracy. To be able to vote you will have to be registered by 5pm on April 14.

To raise the bar a little higher, I would like to encourage budding community champions to stand for election themselves. You can find out much more about what it’s like to be a councillor and how to get involved at a free interactive event being held at the Bedford Corn Exchange on Wednesday, February 23. If you cannot make this meeting, but are still interested, please ring Central Bedfordshire Electoral Services Team on 0300 300 8008.

Recent events in Egypt demonstrate how precious democracy can be, and the honour of being a councillor brings with it its own rewards.