Monday, 8 April 2013

Essex County Council Elections May 2, 2013

April 12, 2013
Thank Crunchie - it's Friday.

Over the last few days I've exchanged more Tweets with the Chelmsford Lib Dems. I also heard from one of my many posts on the various Labour Facebook pages. I've emailed Richard for some more information.

I was prompted to update the blog following a Conservative party election broadcast on BBC1 just before the One Show. I can stand most treatments for these but this went too far. They asked members of the public if they are paying more or less for their council tax. They broadcast people saying it had stayed the same.  They then 'corrected' them by saying their council tax has reduced by 10% in real terms because this Government has helped freeze council tax.

So - in my book - that is 'stayed the same'. The public got it spot on and were still told they got it wrong.

In Chelmsford (on average), it has gone up slightly from £1489.91 in 2012/13 to £1498.36 in 2013/14. Let's not split hairs. If it is costing more, it has gone up.  If it is costing less, it has gone down.  Trying to play the 'in real terms' card doesn't really cut it.  The main increase is due to the 3.49% rise for the police by the new Police Crime Commissioner followed by Chelmsford City Council's 1.98% rise and a 1.41% average rise for the parish councils.

Here's the video - Council Tax question from 1:15:

April 10, 2013
Notification of Election Candidates - a spectacular PDF document which tells me who the election agents are in each division. This apparently is where claims,
notices, writs, summons, and other documents intended for the candidates can be sent. All very nice but absolutely nothing here which adds to my quest to find out why these candidates would like my vote.

Next document is due on April 17th - 'Notices of Polls'. Not sure if this will help but we'll wait and find out. In the meantime, I'll continue looking on the doormat and online for additional clues and I'll report back here as soon as a potential answer is uncovered!

However, a fantastic response from the Lib Dems.  I tweeted a link to this blog and it got a reply from Chelmsford City Council and councillor Mark Springett.

I totally understand the stance of the City Council - they are not allowed to promote any of the candidates and it is their responsibility to do that themselves.

Hats of to Mark Springett who has provided a link to the Lib Dems' Chelmsford website which has news which is up-to-date along with loads of information about their ECC election manifesto pledges. Clear, easy to understand and all making perfect sense in plain English. All those mentioned duly followed.

Not so good from Labour - No replies to any of my posts on the various Facebook pages.

April 7, 2013
A few weeks ago, we had some Poll Cards placed through the letterbox.  I've just got round to looking at them.

It is far from clear but it appears I am being asked to vote on Thursday May 2, 2013. It tells me when and where but it doesn't tell me anything else.  So I went to have a look.

There is a website address: Strange because on the Poll Card it says Essex County Council. Odd.

The web page tells me a lot about elections; registering to vote, voting by post, types of elections, how to register, voting by proxy, election results, voting in person, polling stations and even how I can stand to be elected.  Everything except what I wanted to know - some things about who is standing for the elections to lead me to a decision about who to vote for.

Ah.  At the very bottom of the screen a small and insignificant link - 'upcoming elections' followed by 'Essex County Council Elections'. Bingo?

No. the next page take me through more of the same plus 9 PDFs the only useful one being 'Statement of Persons nominated'.  This shows me the names and addresses of the people standing for the election in my 'division' (whatever that is).

David Howell, Jeremy Jacobs, Mike Mackrory, Jean Murray and Nicholas Tidman.

The previous page informs me that further information will be published on April 10, 2013 including 'notice of poll' and 'notices of election agents'.

Well, call me impatient but I tried to find some information from these people about why they want me to vote for them.  I didn't do very well:

David Howell has no Twitter, website or LinkedIn pages and I can't find his phone number or an email address.  He does seem to be on Facebook via about 6 pages although none of these tell me anything useful. Not knowing which one to use, I posted a question on all of them.  We'll see if I get an answer.

Jeremy Jacobs has no Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, phone number or email address I could find. The only way I'll find out anything from him is to write to him.

Mike Mackrory is listed on the Essex County Council web page. He has a website on the but it doesn't work. His phone number and email address is listed but I could find nothing on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. I am familiar with the occasional letter he posts through my door so I'll look out for that.

Jean Murray lives just round the corner from where I work. She is a City Councillor so her phone number and email address is listed on the City Council's website. She apparently isn't using Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn either. I found the Chelmsford Conservative's website but that only shown 1 link to a page about a councillor. This turned out to be a mistyped URL which took me to a Japanese page about cemeteries. The latest news entry is September 2011 which didn't really inspire confidence.

Nicholas Tidman has no contacts details whatsoever including all of the above I 've already mentioned.

I'm presuming all these people would like me to vote for them but I fear they are not making it very easy for me. Do they think I'll vote because of their political party? Perhaps they think I'll prefer them based on the street they live in or maybe their name sounds friendly?

The only common thing is their address.  This is the 21st century. the age of the social web, smartphones and free WiFi.  Am I really expected to write a letter to each of them and ask them to provide me with their manifesto or other reasons they'd like me to vote for them? Sounds like something I'd be expected to do in 1913 not 2013.

I think I'll hold judgement until Wednesday when more information is being published on the City Council website.

I'll update this later in the week!