As you will probably have noticed from the leaflets starting to fall on your doormat, we’re now in the official run-up to this year’s local elections, which will be held on 5th May.
After 2021’s ‘all-up’ election, prompted by ward boundary changes, we’re now back to ‘election by thirds’, i.e. the selection of just one city councillor spot among the three which cover each ward. Last year’s result gave me a three-year term (to 2024), Cllr Page-Croft a two-year term (to 2023) and Cllr Lee a one-year term, so it is Cllr Lee who is restanding this year. I’m spelling this out because I’ve already received an email from a resident who’d received their postal voting form and was disappointed that my name wasn’t on there!
You can see the official list of candidates in every ward here. There’s also a guide to the election produced by the Queen Edith’s Community Forum here, and the Queen Edith’s magazine team tell me they’ll have a preview with statements from the candidates in their upcoming edition in a fortnight’s time.
I’m glad that Queen Edith’s will be a four-way contest (Labour, Lib Dem, Conservative and Green) but I would have loved to have seen one (or more) independents run too. As confidence in our political systems wanes, it does seem to me that there should be a real opportunity for capable and committed residents to make a contribution to their neighbourhood and their city without having to sign up to the strictures of a political party. Local democracy should not be a thing which other people do to us, it is something in which we can and should all be involved.
I hope to see a future iteration of the Cambridge Corporate Plan include an indicator which tracks voting participation, alongside actions to encourage voter turn-out. Some wards, including Queen Edith’s, achieved around 50% of registered voters taking part in last year’s election, compared to 33% in Kings Hedges. If we’re aiming to build an inclusive city, shouldn’t voter participation be a facet of that inclusivity? With that in mind, if you’re not already registered, the deadline for this May’s election is 14th April. And, if you are already registered, you can apply for a postal vote until 19th April. There are further details on the City Council and Electoral Commission websites.
Finally, there is so much going on in national and international politics at the moment which might understandably sway voting intention, but I really hope that this election is fought on local issues, because this is the one space we have where those debates should be front and centre.
What is your candidate’s vision for the future of this city, and how do they propose we should get there? If they talk about ‘affordable’ housing or ‘sustainable’ development, what do they actually mean and what do they understand the environmental constraints to be? Given the Council’s need to shave another £7m of its budget, which services will they prioritise, and which will be sacrificed? What will they do to ensure that the wealth generated here is retained in the city and distributed widely? And how do they intend to really work in genuine partnership with residents, given the powerful interests lining up to exert their influence over our city and our region?
Hopefully that’s given you some ideas to start the conversation when your candidates come knocking.