There is a saying that “all politics is local.” Which means that however much we hear about international affairs and national budgets, much more of what affects people is the stuff on their own doorstep.
If I look at my postbag for this year, there is some truth in that: housing issues, hospital delays, dog poo, pot holes, street lighting and problems with social care services regularly feature.
Most of these relate to the Cheshire West & Chester Council or the local NHS services, so you can see why central government cuts are having such a big impact locally.
But below CWAC sits another level of government, often overlooked. Our parish councils and parish councillors do massive amounts of work but usually they get overlooked – and unfairly so.
In Christleton, Simon Kent has really impressed me with his detailed and diligent work on traffic. The village sits between the congested A41 and A51 roads, and many drivers speed through the village using it as a rat run. Simon has spent a huge amount of time developing a traffic plan to propose solutions to this problem.
Jacky Creswick sits on Huntington parish Council. I have been working with Jacky to support residents on the new Saighton Camp estate, where the builders and developers need to be much more alive to the needs of residents living there.
Over in Upton, Jean Evans is leading the group’s efforts to get a local plan, which if adopted gives the local community more say over planning matters in the area.
And last weekend I was in Mollington, where Chris Jones was given the unenviable task of being the digital lead. In other words, improving rural internet access. He has thrown himself in with gusto and is now looking at a rural broadband project by linking up with two other neighbouring parish councils, Puddington and Capenhurst.
Not all areas of Chester have a parish council. They are not always suitable, and some residents feel they don’t want an extra level of government. Parish councils spend public money, so they need to be properly scrutinised in case they become personal fiefdoms of more dominant groups. But by and large, most parish councillors will do an honest and decent job, for little reward and recognition, simply because they want to make their area better.
So next time you see an election for the parish council, make sure you vote. Even at that local level, democracy matters.