Big Issue: Use your vote in tomorrow's elections
WE are incredibly lucky to live in a great democracy and get to have our say in how our lives are run, not only at a local level, but at a national and European level too.
Tomorrow, we have elections in Gloucester city in ten of our 15 wards.
Our local system means that roughly one third of our councillors get elected every year.
There are more than 66,000 people living in Abbey, Barnwood, Barton and Tredworth, Elmbridge, Grange, Hucclecote, Longlevens, Matson and Robinswood, Moreland and Tuffley who are eligible to vote this week.
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Many will turn up at one of our 50 polling stations. Nearly 14,000 people will vote by post. And just under 50 have made arrangements for someone they trust to vote on their behalf.
The people who are voting are influencing the way local affairs are run.
The city council is a complex organisation. We are responsible for providing more than 50 services to the public – and many others in partnership with other public and private sector organisations.
As the only service that every resident in the city receives, people tend to think of refuse collection and recycling as one of our prime responsibilities.
And that of course is true. But there are many, many others. We do air monitoring, work with local communities, run markets, monitor planning and work tirelessly to encourage regeneration.
We provide local play areas and parks, we run local museums and help people in housing need.
The list goes on.
But the important thing to stress is that almost every aspect of local life is covered by the services we provide or the partners that we work closely with.
As chief executive and the returning officer for the local elections, I am not allowed to be political – and nor would I wish to be.
My job is to ensure that the elections run smoothly and efficiently.
But part of my job is to encourage you to vote and take part in the electoral process – whichever party you choose to vote for.
Local councillors are there to represent the area in which you live and the local services and amenities that you receive.
You are voting for someone to represent you and your neighbours in the decision-making processes that affect your daily lives.
The polls open at 7am and close at 10pm. We will then be working into the small hours of the morning counting the votes and putting the results – "live as they happen" – on the city council website.
Elections are also taking place in many other places across the county.
If you are eligible to vote and are on the electoral register, then take a few minutes on Thursday to exercise your right to vote and be part of this great democratic process.