A vote for democracy

Date: Monday 8th April 2019

AT the last elections for Eden Council in 2015, half of the 38 seats were uncontested, prompting concerns over the district’s democratic deficit whereby councillors were returned without opposition.

Fast forward four years and voters will have a choice in 35 wards when they go to the polls on Thursday, 2nd May, in what is a remarkable turnaround and a sign that, whatever people’s views of politicians on the national stage at the moment, democracy is alive and kicking at a local level here.

The turmoil in national politics is perhaps reflected in the number of candidates standing for parties of a different hue — Conservative 32; Liberal Democrat 19; Labour 12; Green Party six; Putting Cumbria First three; and Ukip one — plus 11 under the Independent banner.

It means, however, that there will be vigorous campaigning in much of Eden in the fight for control of the district council, which has been in the hands of the Conservatives. In Penrith, for instance, the proposed town masterplan, which has caused much disquiet, will be firmly on the election agenda.

The authority itself has played a key role in encouraging candidates to put their names forward, with effective use of social media in highlighting the importance of local councillors and the difference they can make in their communities. Congratulations should also go to those who have been prepared to put their heads above the parapet to give voters a choice. Their willingness to take part in what can sometimes seem a thankless task deserves to be rewarded with support at the ballot box.