Days to go until the polls open - here’s what Wakefield voters have to say

Wakefield will go to the polls on May 3
Wakefield will go to the polls on May 3

With just days to go until Wakefield goes to the polls for the council elections, people in the city are still deciding which way to cast their votes, if at all, on May 3.

Some 74 candidates across 21 council wards are standing for election.

Jon White.

Jon White.

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And the turnout at the last round of local polls was just over 30 per cent in 2016.

While voter apathy is generally high in years without a General Election some in the city are still keen to make their voices heard.

Labour hold the vast majority of seats on the council it has controlled since 1973, with 53 of the 63 seats available belonging to them. The Conservatives currently have eight, with the remaining two split between an Independent councillor and UKIP.

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With only a third of the seats up for election, there is no danger of Labour losing control in Wakefield, but the Tories are privately hoping to make a handful of gains.

Paul Healey have his opinion...

Paul Healey have his opinion...

Other parties are hoping to break into the fold too with the Liberal Democrats fielding candidates in 12 wards, and the Green Party competing in four.

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UKIP are hoping to treble their number of seats from one to three, while the Yorkshire Party are on the ballot paper in six wards.

The left-wing Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is contesting one council ward, while eight candidates are standing as Independents.

Beyond Wakefield, a further 150 local authorities are holding polls the same day.

And although these elections only affect what happens locally, the national picture of politics almost always has an effect on what happens in the voting booth. Latest polls indicate the Conservatives and Labour are around neck-and-neck.

With all this in mind, here’s what a selection of potential voters in Wakefield have been saying:

David Jones, 80, from Walton, said: “I’ll possibly be voting. I haven’t decided yet.

“You wonder how much difference it makes because the council are all Labour anyway. There needs to be more of an opposition.

“I think the council seems to be spending a lot of money where it’s not needed at the moment.

For example, I don’t understand why they’re building the new Kirkgate roundabout because it’s not necessary.”

Paul Healey, 46, said: “I won’t be voting. I don’t like the candidates standing in my ward. There’s just not enough information about them. I’d like them to be a bit more visible.

“I’d like the council to be sorting out the transport system. I use public transport a lot but it can be difficult to get around. ”

Michael, 49, from the Bradford Road area, said: “I intend to vote Labour. I have done the last few times.

“I have voted Tory in the past but I don’t believe they’ve got the interests of working people at heart.

“We need a root and branch change in society and I think Labour are best placed to deliver that.

“I’d like to see the council do something about car parking in the city centre. I’ve lived here since 1974 and I remember the 80s when people used to shop here, because you had no Meadowhall (in Sheffield) and Leeds wasn’t great for it.

“They need to do something to attract more people into the city. Say if you had parking all day for 50p on a Sunday I bet you’d get loads of people in.”

Jon White, 37, from the Wakefield Rural ward, said: “I won’t be voting. Having studied politics for a number of years I’ve come to the conclusion that locally it really doesn’t matter and it doesn’t make a difference.

“Councils just aren’t getting any money from central government and until they do there’s no point (in voting) because whichever party gets in they can’t do anything without money. I’m surprised Wakefield Council functions as well as it does with the resources it has.”

Melanie Cossins, 44, from Horbury, said: “Yes, I’ll be voting. I’m not sure who for yet – it’s probably between two.

“I’ll have a look at what the candidates want to do in the local community and then decide. I’m particular interested in the areas of education and health. I live in Horbury and I’d like something to be done to bring the community closer together. It’d be nice to bring people out of their homes and meeting each other.

“There’s been quite a bit of anti-social behaviour around the area at the moment so it would be good for the kids to have something to do to stop them hanging round on the streets.”

Matt Standering, 60, from Normanton, said: “I won’t be voting because I’m quite disillusioned to be honest.

“There’s so much false news going around I can’t really trust what I’m hearing. There’s so much stuff on social media, on Facebook and Twitter and what have you, that tries to influence what you think that you don’t really know who to trust. I don’t really know how we overcome that.

“I don’t buy papers and I don’t watch the news on telly anymore. I’ve become more distant from everything that’s going on locally.

“Immigration is one of the big issues for me. More should be done to integrate people.

“A lot of politicians just push the message that’s given to them from above and that’s it.”

Maurice Larkin, 68, from Portobello, said: “I will be voting and I’ll probably be voting Labour. I just always have done. I see no reason to change.

“I think the council have done a job making the city centre look nice. It looks much better than it did in the 60s.

“If there’s one thing I’d like it’s to have the rents come down and for council tax to be a bit cheaper.”

As Tuesday’s midnight deadline to register to vote looms, anyone who is yet to do so has just over 24 hours to ensure they have a say.