Tomorrow, the people of Barnet elect a new council. Although many of us don't realise it, this choice probably has more direct effect on our lives than any other election. It will define the way our schools are run, how much money is spent on sweeping our streets, mending pot holes in the roads and when our street lights are turned on.
If you are elderly or disabled, have elderly or disabled relatives and friends or become disabled or infirm in the next four years, this will have a massive effect on you, as the council provides these services.
The way refuse is collected, the way parking wardens enforce traffic regulations, where pubs are allowed to open and when they are shut for bad behaviour are decisions made by the council.
Decisions such as whether Barnet Council employs local people to provide its services or outsources jobs to far flung places to save money is another decision made by the council. Such decisions can have major effects on the local economy.
As much of Barnet is within the green belt, protection of this area is another major area of council influence, as is enforcement of planning laws. Another major decision is the level of council tax. All of the political parties have different policies and the only way you can influence this is by voting. There is no such thing as a wasted voted. Barnet has been run by the Conservatives since 2002. For eight years before that it was run by a Labour / Lib Dem coalition. As you can see a vote for any of these parties in the has the potential to change the council. In 1994, the balance of power in the council was defined by the Mill Hill Ward By Election, which swung from the Tories to the Lib Dems. From memory, the three seats were decided by 12, 17 and 27 votes. These 56 votes shaped the whole shape of the council. Many wards in Barnet are likely to be decided on such tight margins, so it is important for you, whatever your politics to have your say. After the 1994 elections, everymany Conservatives in Mill Hill who didn't vote, knew that they had let their party down. Likewise every Lib Dem who voted, knew they had made a difference. I use this example not to make a party political point, I just happen to live in Mill Hill so know the difference.
When the new council makes its policies, do you want to be one of the 12 who made the difference or one of the 12 who didn't? The choice is yours. The Barnet Eye asked the leaders of the three main parties for a comment as to why people should vote. Richard Cornelius, Leader of the Barnet Conservatives told us
"People have died to achieve universal suffrage. It is very important to vote. There is a choice as to how the local council goes ahead. The differences might not be as great as in the past but they are there.Your local councillors represent their residents and fight for their wards in their own ways.Everyone should make a choice. Email me firstname.lastname@example.org To get involved"
Leader of the Barnet Lib Dems, Jack Cohen said of the elections.
"These local elections are important. Hard working local councillors can make a real difference by advocating on behalf of residents,by working alongside communities and by ensuring residents views are properly taken into account. I urge everyone to vote"These statements sum up how important voting is. Whoever you support, please vote tomorrow.
The Barnet Eye has had its say on the elections. This will be the last blog we write about the Elections. We trust the people of Barnet to make the right decision. Don't wake up on Friday to find you were "one of the 12 who didn't" and you have a Council which imposes policies that you didn't want.