How could the local elections change my commute?
On my way to work this morning I started to think about the upcoming local elections and all of the things I interact with on my commute that are influenced by my local council. Although my commute is unique to me, and there are far more things the council does that I’ve not mentioned here, I thought it might get you thinking about the importance of engaging with the upcoming election.
The Local Council’s influence on my life begins as soon as I wake up, my little flat in London is of course subject to Council Tax. The level of council tax I pay is determined by the type of home I live in, and the rates for each level are set by the Council. In my case its the biggest bill i receive each month (excluding rent).
This money goes to fund the services the council provides in my area, the Councillors which we elect debate and make decisions about what should be funded and how much money will be provided.
After I’m up and dressed it’s time to leave the house and start my commute. Once a week I move our wheely-bin out in front of the house to make it easier for the refuse collection lorry to access it. Rubbish and recycling are all controlled by the local council too. If leadership in the council changes after the election they might decide to make changes to the system, such as changing the day of the week or even change the number or type of bin!
I then walk to the bus stop. Where I live there are lots of families, so I always pass parents taking their children to School, most of the time these schools will supported by funding from the local council. There will also be homes owned by the council on my street and in my community. A change in council leadership might mean changes in these services which will affect these families.
The bus arrives (it’s always busy!) and I squeeze on. Although technically in London the buses are managed by TFL (Transport for London), in most areas transport, including buses, is managed by the council. Even taxi drivers must apply for a licence from the council they operate within!
The road to work is sometimes a little bumpy, especially if the roads are not in good condition! Road repairs such as pot-holes are also the responsibility of the council, often LOADS of money gets spent on repairing them each year by councils. Although it might not seem like a big deal, pot-holes can be very dangerous for cyclists and can cause damage to vehicles. (Did you know that you can report pot-holes?)
Local speed limits are also set by the council, they might wish to lower the speed limits in certain areas for safety or environmental reasons (Did you know you can request a speed limit change?)
Different candidates standing in the local elections in your area might have ideas about how to improve or change transport and road issues in your community!
Sometimes, when the weather is nice i’ll skip the bus and walk to work via the park. Like most local parks, open spaces, playgrounds, and nature reserves, this park is serviced by my local council. I also pass the council’s sports and leisure centre, which is always busy with people hitting the gym before work. The council keep these public spaces maintained and looking good, but the extent of investment in these spaces is decided by the people in charge of your council, the people YOU elect!
When I’m almost at work i’ll stop in at my favorite cafe to grab a hot drink to get me prepared for the day ahead. I love this cafe in particular as at Christmas it does the most amazing Hot Chocolates with whipped cream, marshmallows and even a flake!
The council don’t only influence my life, they also have an impact on businesses such as this one. The council will decide what business rates the cafe will pay and may also set out the regulations they have to adhere to. Things such as this can have a big impact on whether a business can be successful, so it’s important that the council gets it right. However, as with many things in politics every councillor has a different opinion on what might work best.
Once i’ve got a drink I head into my office building to start my day at work.
It’s amazing to think how many touch points you can have with your local council in a short amount of time, thinking about it this way emphasises how much their decisions might impact your life and in turn why it is so important to have your say over who is making those decisions.