Karen Constantine on BBC TV story head image

Think local, not Brexit on May 2

Have politics around Brexit affected how we might vote on May 2nd?

BBC South East News Political Editor, Helen Catt invited myself and district council candidates to a round table discussion.

Gathered on the terrace of Ramsgate’s Wetherspoon’s pub, the group, representing the mainstream parties were open about the challenges in the forthcoming local elections.

We all agree that the utter chaos in Westminster in the hands of Theresa May’s government, played out on TV news and in the papers day in day out has put many people off politics and politicians. There was also consensus that many Thanet voters may be looking to give the government a bloody nose on May 2nd. Despite the elections being for local councillors, we hear on the doorstep of Brexit fatigue and dissatisfaction with MPs’ behaviour.

So what can be done?

As candidates we have to convince those we meet on the doorstep and those who engage online that these elections are local and are important.

In many ways the outcome will affect our daily lives more than any general election. The litter and dog mess in our streets, the uncollected rubbish, the problems with parking, those poor people sleeping rough in doorways, the rowdy 3am drinkers on a Thursday night, the lack of public toilets – these are all local issues that should be dealt with by Thanet District Council.

As voters, I believe we all have a responsibility to ensure the democratic process of selecting our local council is maintained. Of course, if you don’t feel aligned to any of the political parties then you can spoil your ballot. Some people are saying that is what they will do. By actively going to the polling station and not selecting any candidate before submitting to the ballot box, you become a voice for the disengaged. Take a look at https://votingcounts.org.uk

Quiz your candidates

However, my advice is to ask the politicians questions, look at the manifestos, look at what candidates have done and said. Remember these are local elections. In your wards these are the local politicians that you should be able to turn to for help and support going forward.

As the Labour candidate for Newington in Ramsgate, I obviously seek reelection by those in my ward. I’ve served for the last 3 years and believe there’s still so much that needs to be tackled. Beyond the daily issues mentioned above, there are the age-old problems regarding the disparate need for housing in Thanet, the future of Ramsgate Port, Manston and, of course, the Pleasurama eyesore.

I and other Labour Party colleagues will be knocking on doors right up to May 2nd. It’s something we do year-round anyway, listening to what people have to say. But in the lead up to the local elections, we will be asking you to think local, think about the work that needs to be done to improve the lot of those who live and work in Thanet and think about which council candidates have your interests at heart. Don’t waste your vote. Vote Labour on May 2nd.