'Get out and vote on election day': plea to people across Norfolk
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Get out and vote - that's the message to people across Norfolk as the countdown to election day begins.
The county goes to the polls on Thursday, May 6, with elections for Norfolk County Council, Norwich City Council and for a new Norfolk police and crime commissioner.
An all-out election means 83 seats are up for grabs at Norfolk County Council, which is currently under Conservative control.
County Hall is responsible for crucial services and decision-making which affects every single person across the county.
From care for the most vulnerable members of society to running the county's fire service. overseeing schools and getting rid of rubbish - the work done by the council touches us all.
With schemes like the Great Yarmouth River Crossing to the Long Stratton bypass and the Norwich Western Link - the people we elect are the ones who make key decisions.
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There are more than 300 candidates vying for votes, with the political make-up at County Hall currently Conservatives 52, Labour 16, Liberal Democrats nine, Independent three, Independent (non-aligned) one, non-aligned one and two vacancies.
And leaders and representatives of political groups say people's votes really do matter.
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Andrew Proctor, Norfolk County Council's Conservative leader, said: "We are now moving out of the Covid response into recovery and now is when we need to think about the future of the county and the country as a whole.
"Local government has played a big role in dealing with the pandemic and now needs to play a big role in the recovery.
"Everybody needs to exercise their democratic right to vote, so we can get people in to County Hall who will drive that forward."
Labour group leader Steve Morphew highlighted just how much money County Hall is responsible for.
He said: "In the next four years the county council will spend about £6bn and will take around £6,000 from everybody in council tax.
"Nobody should let that happen without having a say on what is best for them, their family and their community.
"Voting is the only effective way to get your views across and those people who you trust the most in control."
Steffan Aquarone, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said the importance of the elections could not be overstated.
He said: "The future - that's what is at stake. I know politicians always say that sort of thing, but what Norfolk really needs is a plan for what happens next.
"And people's votes can really make a difference - the council has so much influence over people's lives."
Sandra Squire, who leads the Independent group at County Hall, said: "You might not think it affects your lives, but it really does, from the moment you are born.
"It's everything from children in care, to roads, to adult social care, to libraries and roads.
"And if it isn't affecting you now, then you can be sure it will affect you, your family or your neighbours in the future.
"That's why it's so important to vote."
Ben Price, one of the Green Party's candidates, said: "Local councils do have such a significant impact on people's lives and on the streets that people live in.
"The way that we can change society for the better and make a sustainable future that works for everyone is at the ballot box.
"I would encourage everybody to go out on May 6 and vote with their hearts."
Thursday will also see Norfolk go to the polls to vote for a police and crime commissioner (PCC).
Current Conservative incumbent Lorne Green is standing down, so one of Michael Rosen (Labour), Giles Orpen-Smellie (Conservative), David Moreland (Independent) or Martin Schmierer (Green) will be picked to take over the post.
The role of the PCC is to be the voice of the people and hold the police to account.
Trevor Holden, the returning officer for the Norfolk PCC election, stressed the importance of voting.
He said: "They are an important political leader, covering all of Norfolk, responsible for things like budget setting, crime reduction and partnerships with groups that support victims.
""People [are impacted by] the activities of the PCC even if they don't come into direct contact with the office."
People can find their candidates and polling station by visiting www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter/your-election-information