One major note of concern, though, is this - most people I have spoken to are unaware of how to vote in the parish council elections. Some think they have to turn up to the next parish council meeting (wrong), and some think they have to have attended parish council meetings to be entitled to vote (also wrong). Here's actually how it works (and I hope that an independent web site will soon publish a guide on how to vote on 7th of May, because some might say I'm not impartial):
- Make sure you're registered to vote. You have until 20th April to do so, and you can do it at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote.
- Go to you polling station on 7th May (open from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.). Stradbroke's polling station is at the Community Centre in Wilby Road.
- Once it's established you're entitled to vote (and you don't need your polling card for this to happen), you'll be given three voting slips; one for the General Election, one for the District Council election, and one for the Parish Council election. I make no comment on those first two elections, as I am definitely partial in those.
- The Parish Council voting slip will have 18 names on it. You must only put a cross against 13 names or your paper will be invalid. You can decide to choose fewer than 13 (and I suggest you vote only for those people you definitely want to be on the Parish Council, not for people you have no opinion on).
- Put your completed voting slip in the appropriate ballot box, and go home. Or go to the pub. Or got to work. Depending on what time of day it is.
- It's that simple.
Please do vote, even if you don't vote for me (or for the parties I'm partial for in the General Election and District Council election).
Another issue that's cropped up over today and yesterday is that Monday evenings is a really bad time to have Parish Council meetings. Most people I've spoken with tell me that Mondays are their busiest evenings, what with it being the first working day of the week, and that having the meetings on another day, such as a Wednesday, would make it much more likely that they would be able to attend. Bearing in mind the wish I expressed in yesterday's post that I would love to have at least 50 members of the public at every Parish Council meeting, one of the first things I'll be suggesting, should I be elected, is to change the day of the meetings to Wednesday to maximise everyone's chance of attending.
And finally - I attended a cricket club fundraiser at Stradbroke Community Centre this evening. The cricket club is at the centre of the village community, and does much good work, not just on the field, but off it, too. I was really heartened to see existing Councillors James Hargrave and Velda Lummis at the fundraiser, as well as prospective Councillors Carrie Barnes and Ellie Wharton. I would gladly serve on the same council as those four people, who already give much of their time to the community. It was a surprise to me not to see more current councillors, especially those who have served more than 10 years on the Parish Council, supporting such an important and enjoyable community event. I hope this will change when we have a new Parish Council with fresh faces around the table.
Promoted by Richard Pierce-Saunderson of Spring Cottage, Church Street, Stradbroke, Suffolk, IP21 5HT.