Graeme’s Column

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Local authority elections attract nothing like the focus of General Elections to the House of Commons, nor of our national elections to the Scottish Parliament.

Regrettably, that tends to be reflected in turnout on polling day – and it is a great pity that relatively few of the electorate are sufficiently motivated to engage in this process.

I say that not as a criticism of voters, as I am a great believer in politicians having a duty to encourage electoral participation rather than to expect or demand it. But council elections really do matter.

I know from my caseload as an MSP the extent to which interactions with local authority decisions impact upon people. A great many of the concerns that are raised with me relate to areas of policy that are overseen by local government.

These include the condition of our roads, parking charges, traffic calming measures, the frontline delivery of education, access to affordable housing, planning matters, recycling centres and bin collections – not to mention social care. So many of the things at the heart of our daily lives are run by the local council, either entirely or in partnership.

This is why your vote is so important. On Thursday May 5th here in Angus, as across the rest of Scotland, we will be asked to elect a new local authority administration. I would make the case that taking part in this exercise is every bit as important as selecting your MSPs and MPs.

Given that the administration we have had here in Angus these past few years is of an entirely different political persuasion than my own, naturally I would encourage people to vote for change.

First and foremost, however, as someone who believes in the democratic process, I would encourage you simply to participate and have your say. Democracy should be a bottom-up process, and getting it right at the local level is key to making that a reality.

I would urge people across Angus to take the time out to read the leaflets that come through your doors, to consider what you would like to see done differently, to look into the candidates putting themselves forward to be councillors and to exercise your democratic right at the ballot box this spring.

At this election, make sure your voice is heard loud and clear.