Add this to your to-do list: “Vote on Thursday”

Things are getting really busy here @warksdemocracy, so a short blog today.

Today’s message is simple. Don’t forget to vote on Thursday.

Add it to your to-do list. Stick a post-it note on the fridge. Put it on the calendar.

Vote here.As usual, if you’ve got any questions, or want any information, give us a shout on twitter, or at democraticservices@warwickshire.gov.uk

Don’t lose your voice. Register to Vote!

RegisterRegisterRegister

Our County Council elections take place on 2nd May, and we want to make sure that as many people in Warwickshire use their vote, and have a say about what goes on in Warwickshire.

Registering is easy – but if you don’t do it in time you’ll lose your chance to vote. Simply fill in this online form, or contact your local Electoral Office:

North Warwickshire

T: 01827 719221 E: democraticservices@northwarks.gov.uk

Nuneaton & Bedworth

T: 02476 376230 E: electoralreg@nuneatonandbedworth.gov.uk

Rugby

T: 01788 533595 E: elections@rugby.gov.uk

Stratford on Avon

T: 01789 260208 E: elections@stratford-dc.gov.uk

Warwick

T: 01926 456107 E: elections@warwickdc.gov.uk

Remember, you only have until 17th April to register.

There’s still time, but do it now to make sure you can use your vote on 2nd May.

Registering to vote – new video!

So we’ve been talking for ages here at Warksdemocracy about how important is to register to vote.

We’re holding County Council Elections in Warwickshire on 2nd May – and residents will have a chance to have their say and vote for who they think will best represent them.

This is all great – BUT if you’re not registered, you won’t be able to vote on 2nd May, and you’ll lose your voice.

Our News Team have made this great video about registering to vote – take a look!

Don’t forget you can register at aboutmyvote.co.uk. If you’ve got any questions you can drop us an email or find us on Twitter.

Want to vote? Get registered!

Voter registration form

We’re holding our County Council elections on 2nd May this year. This is when local residents get the chance to elect their County Councillor for the next four years.

Great!  But if you haven’t registered, you won’t be able to vote… and you’ll lose your voice.

You should have had a registration letter through the door, or a visit from the Council in October last year. If you missed this, you might not be on the electoral register.

But don’t worry; it’s not too late to get registered. Just go to www.aboutmyvote.co.uk and fill in your details. Make sure you do this before 5pm on Wednesday 17th April.

Why should I vote?

By voting on 2nd May, you get to have a say about what goes on in Warwickshire, who makes decisions on your behalf and who will represent your views throughout the County.

Councillors are elected to represent local residents – and you can vote for the person who you think will represent you the best.

Every vote counts. So if you don’t use it, the person you want will have less chance of getting elected.

How do I vote?

You’ll receive a polling card at the end of April, which will tell you where to go on election day. Take the card along to your polling station any time between 7am -10pm to cast your vote.

So – if you’re not yet registered to vote – go to www.aboutmyvote.co.uk, and fill in your details. Then make sure you vote in the County Council elections on 2nd May.

Review of 2012 – Communities

Before the first set of scrutiny meetings kick off this year we thought we would look back at the past twelve months and highlight some of the key areas that scrutiny members worked on last year.

Street Lighting

Streetlighting

Part-night street lighting was one of the Council’s most controversial policies of 2012 and it looks as though that will continue through 2013 as the programme is rolled out across the County.

Towards the end of last year a group of Councillors were tasked with looking at the proposals and consider a number of areas including; alternative technologies, the impact on crime and road safety, and the level of savings that would be achieved. The group made a series of recommendations that focused on keeping residents safe and improving communication with the public.

The full report can be read here: Street Lighting Task and Finish Group Report

The issue provoked a lot of negative press attention over the Christmas break and, in response, the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be hosting a special Q&A session with the Cabinet member and street lighting engineers to give people a chance to have an input.

Subsidised Bus Services

Bus Stop

In 2011-12 the budget for subsidised bus services was hit with a major reduction of 45%. Good public transport links are vital for many people in the County and Councillors wanted to know what they could do to help the situation.

A small group of members, working closely with Transport Operations officers, put together proposals for an innovative, low cost set of evening bus services that would run on Friday and Saturday evenings. The services were designed to reduce transport inequality and support the night-time economy across Warwickshire. The Cabinet agreed to consider the proposals as part of the 2013 budget so we’ll soon find out if the proposals become a reality.

The full report can be read here: Bus Services Report

Libraries

Libraries

2012 changed the face of the library network in Warwickshire. We saw the introduction of 12 community libraries that are being run by local community groups, opening hours changed across the County, and the first stages of the mobile library service reconfiguration have been agreed. Scrutiny members have been working to ensure the best possible service is delivered to local people, despite big reductions in funding.

Fire & Rescue

Fire

Warwickshire’s Fire and Rescue Service has been through a period of major structural change and has faced some significant challenges over the past twelve months – but despite this the service has been an open and forthcoming scrutiny partner.

Scrutiny has been involved at every stage of the ongoing implementation of the Fire & Rescue Service Improvement Plan and the updated Integrated Risk Management Plan, and continues to work with the service on keeping Warwickshire residents safe.

Spreading The Word

YouTube

2012 also saw the debut of scrutiny updates on YouTube. We’ve been thinking a lot about how to better connect with people and this was one of our favourite ideas – it’s quick, free and has the potential to reach a lot of people who would never think of coming to one of our meetings in person. Giving more people the opportunity to find out what goes on at our scrutiny meetings will hopefully lead to more people getting involved in future scrutiny work.

Scrutiny videos are posted on our blog and you can find them on the WCC YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/Warwickshirenews

How bus services cuts have affected local communities

Have you been left waiting?

Councillors have just begun a scrutiny review of the impact that bus service cuts have had on local communities. The review aims to find the places in the County that have been hardest hit and find ways to improve their services.

Councillors have highlighted this issue because it affects so many people and impacts on all kinds of other areas like jobs, education, health, and leisure. The Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee recently hosted a meeting for people to talk about transport problems; some of the major issues that we picked up were:

  • Working people not being able to get to shift jobs on time
  • Young people not being able to get home from night-time jobs at pubs or restaurants
  • Older people who couldn’t get to their local hospital or doctor’s surgery
The review will run from now through to September, with Councillors reporting their findings at the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 19 September. For scrutiny that is quite a short review for a major topic but it means the review can feed into the Council’s budget setting process for next year.

If you’re a bus user then tell us about your experiences – are the services in your area regular enough? Are you able to access work, your doctor’s practice, the local hospital, shopping facilities etc.? The more responses we have the better.

You can get in touch by emailing me at daveabbott@warwickshire.gov.uk or leaving a comment below.

Improving Council services – have your say

The County Council provides a wide range of services for local residents, funded in part by your Council Tax. These cover social care, children’s services, roads and infrastructure, waste disposal, and fire and rescue.

Are these services working?

Could they be improved?

Are there hidden problems that need to be explored?

Most Council decisions are taken by the Cabinet, which is made up of 10 county councillors from the Conservative group. However, there are many other councillors, from across the political parties, whose role is to hold the Cabinet to account on those decisions.

This is done via something called “Overview & Scrutiny”. Councillors choose specific topics to examine and scrutinise in detail, and then try to form clear recommendations about how to improve them. The focus is on better outcomes for residents and service users – and it is a key element of the Council’s democratic process.

Councillors will soon be deciding what topics they’ll be looking at over the next 12 months – and they’d like to hear your views*.

What should the Council be scrutinising?

Please email your thoughts by 6 May 2012 to: democraticservices@warwickshire.gov.uk

*Scrutiny only has the capacity to look at certain issues. However, any requests that Councillors are unable to investigate will be passed on to the relevant Council department.

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