Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Under starters orders!

The City Council has now officially ‘called’ the City Council elections for 1st May, and nominations have opened for candidates in all 14 wards. Nominations will close on 4th April, and shortly after that I’ll know who my opponents will be on May 1st. Previously all the usual suspects have put up candidates in Coleridge, but for the benefit of any Lib Dem activists reading, I know you’ll enjoy the next bit – its going to be a two horse race between the Conservatives and Labour in Coleridge!

But don’t let that discourage anyone from standing – its really quite straightforward! To stand you must generally either live or work in the City Council area, and get ten voters in your chosen ward to sign your nomination papers (who haven’t already signed someone else's!). Unlike parliamentary elections, there is no deposit to pay or lose.

If elected, as a minimum you must attend one official meeting of the Council every six months, but all Councillors of whatever party in Cambridge are committed to doing their best for local residents, and will be doing much more than that as they make or scrutinise decisions about City Council services including planning, the recycling, community facilities, leisure facilities, housing, grants to voluntary organisations etc etc. Councillors are also expected to be community leaders in their ward and campaign on behalf of residents on local issues.

For more information about being a candidate in local elections, see here. Most Councillors in Cambridge run under a party banner, which I think is generally a good thing. Try as I might, it is very difficult to personally speak or even communicate at all with all 6,000ish Coleridge residents, so the party banner may give people some idea of my likely approach to local issues, and the help of my many volunteers from the local party is crucial in the election campaign.

Quite shockingly, the Lib Dem County Councillor for Romsey ward has stepped down – so there will be a by-election for this vacancy on the same day there. The Lib Dems only won this area at County level for the first time in 2005, and this is the second Councillor to step down early – average time in post only 18 months. Whilst I don’t know the background of this resignation, if it is just another ‘career move’ that has caused the vacancy, I think the electorate of Romsey will be seriously questioning whether their support is being taken for granted with a series of Lib Dem candidates clearly lacking commitment to the area.

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