Liz Harsant was elected Councillor in 2002 to represent Holywells Ward and in 2004 became Leader of Ipswich Borough Council, in a joint administration (Conservatives /Lib Dems) for 6½ years. Amongst other things, community spirit is one of the reasons that Liz writes for Waterfront Life.
‘Election Fever’ hardly applies to the recent Suffolk County Council elections where turnout in Ipswich was very poor indeed roughly around 30 percent. I often ask residents why they don’t vote and the answer is “well it makes no difference” or “I can’t be bothered the same person always gets elected”. Yet the County Council runs all of the most important services which nearly everyone who votes will at some time in their lives need to use.
For us local politicians in Ipswich we have local elections every year and as soon as one election is over we are talking about the next. Looking for and selecting candidates, discussing the issues we think the electorate are interested in, composing and delivering newsletters in our Wards and knocking on doors to see what problems or issues local residents have which we might be able to help resolve.
The day of the election is always hectic; us activists have to start as early as 5 a.m. and some parties have tellers sitting on polling stations. I’m convinced that residents have no idea why we do this but everyone has an electoral roll number and that is what the teller asks for. This is reported back to HQ and we then know that person has voted and later on in the early evening we don’t have to go round to their house and check!! Readers will by now probably have switched off, but it all fits together; canvassing, identifying your particular party’s voting intentions, telling to see if your pledges are going out and finally “knocking up”; persuading residents to go and vote.
This year I stood for the County Council in the Gainsborough Division and although I didn’t win, I only lost by 3 votes. For all politicians, ‘The Count’ is a very tense time even if you are sure you are going to win there is always that little element of doubt and for me this year it was particularly stressful!
So now we have another election - perhaps one of the most important elections in our lifetime. So let’s hope people go out and vote whatever their politics - it really is important.