19 April 2024

Why we must fight for local democracy

I think I’ll need a lie-down after this paper goes to press.

It’s been an especially tough one to produce as, for the past 10 days, we’ve been trying to pull together an election preview to give readers as much information as possible ahead of the council polls on Thursday, May 4.

We have focused on the main East Riding Council elections and those standing in the four Holderness wards. And, to ensure our coverage is fair and balanced, we offered each candidate the chance to tell readers in 100 words (accompanied by a photo of themselves), what they are about and why people should vote for them.

Sadly, despite days and days of chasing and a considerable amount of time wasted, not all of them decided to take us up on this offer. Maybe I was expecting too much; maybe our community-focused paper is not deemed important enough to engage with, I don’t know – but I have to say I was surprised and not a little disappointed.

Perhaps traditional media isn’t seen as the best way of getting the word out nowadays, in this internet age. However, saying that, searching for detailed information about local election candidates online is not as easy as all that; I’ve struggled to find any information on the missing candidates beyond their names, which can be found in a PDF available to download on the East Riding Council website (and only then after some searching). I could find nothing about what they as individuals stand for, or what they aim to do to serve you, our readers.

All I can say is I did try, extensively, to reach them, and I’m sorry that in some slots there is nothing but a generic statement.

Engagement in local democracy is dwindling, and to me this is not a good look, especially as the law that requires people to bring ID before they are allowed to vote in person will make it even more difficult for some to have their say on issues that affect them.

Any barrier at all is likely to make people give up on the process, especially those who have yet to be convinced as to the importance of local democracy.

As the editor of a local newspaper at the heart of this community, I will continue to stand up for local democracy and urge everyone – and I mean everyone – to engage in it. Please read our coverage, make up your own mind, and use your vote.