Monday, 24 February 2014

The death of democracy in our own back yard

There is an election in May to choose a new admistration in Barnet. I was talking to a local Tory Councillor who told me he thought the turnout would be less than 50% of the electorate. It will be even less for the Euro elections on the same day, as most people don't even know what MEP's do.

The question is "does it matter if I don't vote?". Well if you are in one of the groups below it makes a huge difference, as the council is responsible for the services you use.

Adult disabled/Special needs
Car drivers
People who put the bins out
People with children in schools or educational establishments
People with relatives buried in local graveyards
People who pay Council tax
People who work for firms that pay business rates
People who live in a controlled parking zone
People who walk on pavements
People who like a walk in the park
People who live in a house and want to change or extend it, requiring planning permission
People who use libraries

There are probably other groups of people. The council decides all of these things. How well they are done, how much money is spent on them. They use your tax to pay. The equation is pretty simple in Barnet. The Tories have a policy of spending as little on services as possible so that they can charge as little tax as possible. Labour want to charge a bit more and protect the most vulnerable people in society from the worst of the cuts. Unless you live in High Barnet or Childs Hill, the Lib Dems are irrelevant, in those areas they are staunch campaigners for local issues. Whichever side of that argument you stand on, if you don't vote, don't moan when your tax bill goes up or your granny doesn't get her meals on wheels on time. Local democracy is dying and the people who are killing it are apathetic voters. Many people will be getting knocks on the door from politicians canvassing. Ask them what they will do about the local issues that concern you. If they give you an answer you don't like, tell them you will not be voting for them and you will be voting for the other side. Carry out your threat as well. It is the only chance you will get in the next four years to change anything. We will cover the local issues and try and help you make up your mind, if you haven't already.

No party is perfect, in some ways none of them really deserve our votes, so you have to choose the least worst option. Don't be fooled by anyone who tells you it doesn't matter. If Barnet had a different administration, we wouldn't have seen the abolition of pay and display parking and local disabled people would not have seen services slashed. You would also be paying about the price of a Starbucks coffee a week in extra tax. That's the long and the short of it.

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