A Lichfield county councillor has urged the public not to let the current crisis in the political system stop them voting in the European and County Council elections.
Matthew Ellis, Staffordshire County Councillor for Lichfield Rural East, admitted that the scandal surrounding MPs expenses has led to public apathy towards politics.
But writing for The Lichfield Blog, Mr Ellis revealed exactly why people should keep the faith with local and regional politics:
To vote or not to vote? That’s the question many electors will be asking themselves between now and June 4 – the day of the County and European elections in Lichfield and across the country.
And with daily revelations about MP expenses and a feeling of public disconnection with politics and politicians at all levels it’s a very valid question. Well, as a County Councillor , I can certainly explain why I believe it’s important to have a say about our future locally in Staffordshire.
But firstly, I’d say that the controversy nationally couldn’t be further from my experience of County Councillors across all parties in Staffordshire over the last four years. Those I know genuinely want the best for our county and the communities they represent whilst receiving no more than travel costs, IT equipment, stationery and a yearly allowance.
So, how does the County Council affect our lives every day? It’s the largest employer in Staffordshire with over 30,000 staff and directly spends £1.3billion and influences how another £600million is spent each year in our county.
When our council tax bills come through the letterbox each March we send the money to Lichfield District Council but many people don’t realise Lichfield keeps only 10 per cent with almost all the rest going to Stafford for countywide services.
Every day all of us use some of the County’s 300 public services. Whether it’s roads or public transport, care services for children and the elderly, or primary, secondary and special schools and, very soon, post 16 education.
Some County Councillors are responsible for policing, the fire and rescue service and safety on our road, including the dreaded speed cameras and policy on speed limits. Perhaps you use libraries regularly or have a business which relies on tourism? The County Council has the largest resources outside central Government to help Staffordshire’s economy through the recession. It needs spending wisely in these difficult times.
Should our county be a national leader in being environmentally ‘green’ even if it costs more money to do so? Should Staffordshire build incinerators to dispose of our waste and just how should hundreds of millions of pounds be spent on improving schools and education across the county?
From deciding where and how much quarrying will happen in rural areas to debates around whether travel to school should be free and providing better facilities for young people such as youth clubs and activity centres to use in the evenings and at weekends?
The simple fact is that if you live in Staffordshire the County Council affects your life in one way or another every single day. And for most people the amount of money paid to the County Council in tax is second only to national taxation.
But one final plea – the County elections are about what happens locally in Staffordshire. Try to overcome the temptation of using your vote as a sign of overall disdain for the behaviour of some MPs nationally.
It’s what happens locally over the next four years and which individuals you want on hand to help you and your area which really matters on Thursday.
So should you vote locally – of course you should!