It’s now less than three months until the local elections. It’s a particularly crucial year, because this will be an all-out election – the first for more than a decade, where every seat is up for grabs.
That’s because some ward boundaries changed last year, and now people may be voting within a different location. Voters will elect 60 councillors across the city.
All UK councils are under pressure as budgets are increasingly slashed. So the decisions we make are not always easy ones. The best way to get your voice heard is to cast your vote on May 5.
But you need to make sure you’re on the electoral register. Don’t assume that because you pay council tax you’ll be able to vote. You can register online at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
If you care about what happens in your part of the city or village, find out who your potential councillors are and what they stand for. The elected councillor for your ward will be your voice at council meetings, so it’s important to choose someone who represents your views.
Once you’ve done your research, you might even think that none of the candidates is right. If so, and you feel passionate about what goes on in the city, why not stand for election yourself? We welcome fresh thinking and there’s still time to get involved.
It’s a challenging job but can be hugely rewarding. Just look at Charles Swift OBE, who has held a seat for more than 60 years and devoted his life to the city.
His will be big shoes to fill when he stands down in May.
It’s easy to voice your views from an armchair or a seat in the pub, but I encourage anyone who wants to drive changes to get involved, whether by talking to your own councillor or standing to become one.
As well as casting votes in council and parish elections, people will also be selecting a Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire. This is an important job for the county.
The police and crime commissioner’s job is to maintain an efficient and effective police force for the area, and to hold the Chief Constable to account. They hold the role for four years, so again it’s important to know that you’re electing someone that you think will do a good job.
The better we do as a council, the greater the attention we can attract nationally. Which is why it was a real pleasure to welcome two dignitaries last week.
One was David Evennett MP, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, here to see Must Farm, the cathedral and talk about the city’s cultural highlights.
And we were delighted to receive the Duchess of Cornwall who, in her role as Patron of the National Literacy Trust, took part in a festival at the cathedral before coming to the Town Hall. She did a great job in highlighting the important work that the Trust does to support reading in the UK.
As our school population continues to grow we need to keep investing to keep standards high.
I was honoured to be able to formally unveil an extension to the outstanding school for children with special needs, the Phoenix School, this week.
It looks fantastic and will help give youngsters in the city the additional support they need in the best possible environment.