Stand up and be counted

AN urgent appeal has gone out in Suffolk for volunteers to seek election to the bottom rung of local government – parish and town councils.Hundreds of councillors have resigned in the past 18 months in protest at the Government's decision to force them to sign a declaration of financial and other interests more stringent than that required by elected members to county and district authorities.

AN urgent appeal has gone out in Suffolk for volunteers to seek election to the bottom rung of local government – parish and town councils.

Hundreds of councillors have resigned in the past 18 months in protest at the Government's decision to force them to sign a declaration of financial and other interests more stringent than that required by elected members to county and district authorities.

There is now a shortage of people willing to stand. Although the elections on May 1 will be overshadowed by voting for district councillors, the Suffolk Association of Local Councils (SALC) has made a plea for people to consider volunteering for election.

Mary Mitson-Woods, chief executive of SALC which represents hundreds of parish councils and more than 30 town councils, said training would be provided for newly elected councillors.


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She urged residents to consider playing part in parish and town affairs. "These councillors consult, sort out local problems and priorities, and promote the interests of the area, its people and organisations.

"This is often seen as vital when councillors of larger councils have to made decision on local issues without the first hand knowledge of the area which local people have," said Mrs Mitson-Woods.

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Supporting the campaign is Julian Claxton, a 21-year-old member of Oulton parish council. "By being elected to the local council, I have played a responsible part in helping to improve the quality of life for local people.

"I'm glad I had the courage to stand."

Keith Scarff, the mayor of Stowmarket, joined the town council when he was 21. "If you feel strongly about your community, you should live it also – don't sit on the fence.

"It's a challenge, but if you grasp the nettle, you can make a difference," said Mr Scarff.

Those interested in joining should obtain a form from their local district council, or local council clerk, and obtain two sponsors.

Further information is available for Mary Mitson-Woods at SALC on 01473 833713 (e-mail salc.suffolk@lineone.net).

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