All entries for Monday 21 April 2008

April 21, 2008

Council Elections 2008

Coventry

It seems a bit unfair of me to have already mentioned the London Mayoral elections, given their massive media coverage, without having talked about our local vote on 1st May. Its council election time!

Practical Points
The election is on May 1st. It is now too late to apply for a postal vote, Your polling card will specify what what ward you live in, and where you need to vote. If you can’t be bothered to move, you can find out here . I live in Whoberley, which has a wikipedia page that really needs improving, and if you live on campus you are likely to be in the Wainbody ward. Each ward has three councillors, for a total of 54 councillors in Coventry City Council. One will be elected this election. You can find out who is running here If you live in whoberley and are confused by the map on the polling card then I’ve created a Google Map .

Background
Historically Coventry has been a Labour stronghold. They held control of the council every year from 1973 to 2002 with the exception of 1978. The conservatives took over in 2006, with a period of no overall control in between. Both Wainbody and Whoberley have currently three conservative councillors. In wainbody in 2007 the conservatives took 56% of the vote, approximately 2.5 times the number of votes that the second place candidate came in. A student (Emma Biermann) stood for election as the Green Party candidate, coming in 4th place with nearly 9% of the vote.

Whats worth noting is that there are approximately 4,000 students living on campus at University of Warwick, the university registers everyone to vote, and the total turnout in wainbody at the last council elections is also about 4,000 people. In other words a highly motivated student populace could not only swing a close vote – they could vote in whomever they wanted. (Assuming of course that not too high a percentage of campus dwellers are ineligible to vote.)

In Whoberley the conservative majority in 2007 was only 127 votes. Furthermore, the incumbent Conservative Councillor (Joan Griffin) has been booted from their ticket due to health scares, but is running as an independant. I suspect this will split the vote, and offer somewhat of a spoiler for the conservative party.

Whoberley
I’d really like to cover the liberal democrats at these elections, but they don’t really seem to be making much of an effort to get my vote. The Labour Party has put out a full, front, page ad in the Coventry Times, whilst the Conservatives have sent out quite good looking flyers. I have received no such information from Brian Rees Lewis (who also ran as the Lib Dem candidate last time). I can’t even find his name listed on their website. Their website is also incredibly uninformative. They have 9 days to shove something under my door if they want me to care.

Joan Griffin seems to be emphasizing school discipline and minimising the number of drinking licenses handed out. Both of these policies put me off. The conservatives and their candidate Roger Bailey have made a series of commitments for the next few years:

“Continue the ‘Contact and Connect’ service for our elderly residents” & “Keeping council tax rises below pensions” – I think is probably a good thing overall, and that policies should be sympathetic to the needs of those on fixed incomes, but its not really a key issue for me.

“Keeping Pool Meadow open” & “Keeping weekly refuse collections” – I don’t believe any party has the balls to close it, so this seems like rabble rousing to me. Also neither of these are new policies, so making pledges on them is a pretty weak campaigning effort.

Expanding recycling – thats a great pledge, but the council also wanted to allow building on Hearsall Common before a residents petition (organised by Lib Dems in the apparently vastly more active neighbouring region) stopped it . There’s more to environmental issues that just recycling and its a very vague pledge – they don’t specify what they will actually do to improve recycling.

The Labour candidate for Whoberley, Bally Singh, seems to be making a strong effort – lots of emphasis on consultation and a blog. He also also emphasises working with other people – quite important since I expect that Coventry will remain a Conservative controlled council even if he is elected, so he will need to force change from a minority position – a hard task to accomplish. He provides 3 policy pledges:

“Protect our local environment” – he specifies problems here well (Hearsall Common, Watchmakers Building, litter) though not solutions. He also a more broad ranged view of environment than the Conservative Pledges.

“Challenge Anti Social behaviour” – I have no sympathy for ‘anti-anti social behaviour policy’. He somewhat redeems himself by discussing how they can work with the local MP to try and get more activities for people to do.

“Improve our council services” – He doesn’t actually say what he will do, but he does talk about consulting with the community, so this pledge is somewhat worthless, but not entirely.

Your Vote
Please do vote in your local council elections. I’ve presented what I think is a useful summary of information, so you have no excuse.


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