With 3 weeks to go until the local elections, the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) and County Councils Network (CCN) today launch Out for the Count, an awareness raising campaign dedicated to improving local democracy with a call for open and accessible local elections data across the UK.
This year, Out for the Count 2017 will be run in partnership between the LGiU and CCN, to promote the importance of County Elections and the local services provided by these authorities. Counties represent the single biggest grouping of councils in the country, covering 86% of England’s landmass and 47% of residents, delivering the majority of local services.
Download the LGiU and CCN Out for Count Guide here.
CCN is supporting the Out for the Count coverage as part of CCN’s Your County Matters campaign.
The campaign aims to illustrate the importance of county authorities and why these local county elections are so crucial. Your County Matters emphasises how important the delivery of county services are economically and socially to our local communities, seeking in particular to demonstrate that counties are best placed to carry out the Government’s localism agenda and are the critical bodies for delivering devolution and service transformation in non-metropolitan areas.
You can find out more on CCN’s new Your County Matters microsite here.
Out for the Count (working alongside Democracy Club) will also provide live local election results coverage and analysis with insights into what’s happening on the ground and what it means for the country as a whole. Over the past six years, the LGiU has been telling the story of what’s happening in the locals by crowdsourcing data provided by count correspondents (volunteers from local government and the wider community) from across the UK. On the night of the elections we drill down the results, shared as open data.
On Thursday 4 May, 35 councils in England are up for election including 27 County Councils, 7 Unitary Authorities and 1 Metropolitan Borough Councils. For the first time, 6 city regions will choose their first directly elected Mayors along with Mayoral elections in Doncaster and North Tyneside. In Scotland, 32 councils are up for election and 22 in Wales. Our in-depth report, Out for the Count – a Guide to the Local Elections, looks at the ones to watch and the big issues facing local government at the moment.
In 2016, with funding and support from the Open Data Institute and Democracy Club, Out for the Count delivered the UK’s first election results tracker for the local government elections.
Simon Edwards, Director of CCN, said:
“As ever in local elections, there will be plenty of interesting narratives in May played against the backdrop of Brexit and national politics, but this should not detract from the importance of these county elections to local voters.
“We have seen social care funding issues gain a good deal of traction in the national media, and bin collections and potholes are ‘bread and butter’ issues for local people, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In the majority of rural England, counties account for 90% of spending on residents’ local government services, ranging from social services and school place allocations to streetlights and rural bus services.
“County authorities are responsible for just shy of £30bn which is spent on public services each year. Every successfully elected councillor will go onto represent around 8,000 people, and cover, on average, 48 miles of road, with their councils providing the majority, if not all, of services in their areas. These are significant numbers: that’s why it is important that as many as possible of the 25 million rural people in England go out and cast their vote in May.”
Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive of LGiU, said:
“Local elections are often seen as a prism through which to view national politics, as an indication of the strength of Government and opposition in Parliament. But they are a vitally important in their own right. Councils are a fundamental part of British democracy, providing the essential services that citizens rely on every single day. And, with many councils up and down the country facing their biggest budget cuts in the last decade, the stakes couldn’t be higher in this year’s local elections.
“At LGiU, we know democracy works best when the public has easily accessible information about local elections and candidates. So as well as looking out for the green shoots of a Liberal Democrat resurgence, watching how well UKIP perform post the EU referendum and assessing the fortunes of the Conservative and Labour parties at this point in the electoral cycle, we will be “Out for the Count,” observing and analysing what these elections mean for local government and the implications the results will have for communities across the UK.
“So much of what local government provides goes beyond bin collection and street lighting. When the public vote on 4 May it will be to decide who will run their services, make the decisions that will impact their lives, whether or not their family will receive adequate care in old age, allocate places for schools or work to improve the economic outlook of their local area.”
For more information from LGiU on the guide, visit here.