Councillor David Renard’s Swindon Advertiser column

Councillor David Renard, Leader of the Council

It might appear to some that local democracy has become a bit like waiting for a bus: nothing for ages then three come along at once – parish elections, the neighbourhood plan referendum and general election.  Some residents may have three votes and others only one, as the body that administers elections this is an extra busy time for the Council.

Parish Council Elections, 4th May

The first elections are next Thursday on 4th May when we will have elections for the Swindon Central North, Swindon Central South, West, St Andrews, and Nythe, Eldene and Liden Parishes.  There are a few wards where the councillors were elected unopposed, but its good see such a variety among the 136 candidates contesting the 65 remaining seats.

Polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm and you do not need a polling card to vote.  Please read the instructions carefully on the ballot paper as you may have more than one vote to use.

Highworth Neighbourhood Plan Referendum, 25th May

If you live in the Highworth Town Council area, you will have a chance to vote on the adoption of the Neighbourhood Plan.  This is a separate ballot on 25th May.   You have until 9th May to apply to be on the electoral register and until 10th May to apply for a postal vote if you will be away on polling day.

Neighbourhood Plans are vital as they are evidence that Planning Inspectors take into account at appeals and so can help determine what developments occur along with which ones are blocked.

General Election, Thursday 8th June

Of course, in June we will have another election, this time for two Members of Parliament.  I would encourage anyone who is not already on the electoral register to act quickly if you want a say in who will represent Swindon in Westminster.  You can register online here: www.swindon.gov.uk/registertovote.

You will need your date of birth and National Insurance number handy.

You can apply in person by coming to the Civic Offices, Euclid Street SN1 2JH during office hours or you can call our Customer Services team on 01793 445500

Even once you are on the register, you may be away for polling day.  You can download a form to apply to vote by post here: www.swindon.gov.uk/waystovote or you can e-mail elecreg@swindon.gov.uk or call the Electoral Services team on 01793 464601 and ask for a form to be posted to you.

Please make a note of the key deadlines.

To register to vote for the Parliamentary election: 22nd May

To apply for a postal vote, 5pm, 23rd May

To apply for a proxy vote, 5pm 31st May

Voting is an important civic duty and it is a right still denied to many across the world.  I encourage everyone to vote where appropriate at these forthcoming polls.