Hope Woolston explains what will happen when Essex elects its new county council next month
Every four years, county councils have local elections to decide who will represent each area – known as “divisions”. The people of Essex have their chance to vote on 4 May.
Essex has 75 councillors, nine of who are from divisions in Colchester. The last election was held in May 2013 and the average turn out in Colchester was just 27.8%.
Why do so few people vote?
Most people would head to Essex county council’s website if they wanted to know more about the election, however there is not a lot there.
If you only want to know the names of the candidates and the parties they support, the website is fine, however there is no information on their policies or why to vote for them.
Some people may vote for the party the candidate represents rather than the individual.
What are you voting for?
County councils are responsible for lots of things in their area, including education, transport and social care. Councillors tend to represent a political party, with a handful being independent candidates.
Candidates have to live or work in their division, as if elected they have the responsibility to represent the views of the people who live there.
What do councillors do?
Everyone who is elected has to follow a code of conduct that includes declaring any financial interests, which could sway their opinion in council decisions, to ensure high standards.
Councils hold regular meetings for decision making, which are usually open to the public. The councillors do not receive a wage, but can claim for expenses.
In Essex the next full council meeting will take place on 16 May 2017, once the new council has been elected.
Who are the councillors?
As it currently stands, Essex is a Conservative council with the party, lead by David Finch, holding forty-four seats.
The Liberal Democrats—lead by Mike Mackrory — have nine seats, Labour – lead by Ivan Henderson — have eight and UKIP – lead by Nigel Le Gresley — have six.
The remaining seats are divided between Green and independent councillors.
David Finch currently leads the council with Kevin Bentley as his deputy.
The Cabinet Member for Education is Raymond Gooding, health is led by Graham Butland and Eddie Johnson heads transport and highways.
Information about all of the cabinet members is available on Essex County Council’s website.
What can you do?
The most important think you can do is go and vote, but remember to do this you must be on the electoral register.
With a bit of digging and searching, you should be able to find out more about your division’s candidates.
Remember that you can only have your say on who becomes your councillor if you cast your vote on Thursday 4th May.