A new campaign launches today to explain the vital role of our 11 councils and to encourage people to vote in the local government elections on Thursday 2 May.
Spearheaded by the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA), informative, short animation pieces focus on the real-life experiences of four individuals, why they believe that voting in the council elections is important and what they hope to see as a result of using their vote.
Among the participants sharing their views and experiences are the Founder and Director of ArtsEkta, Nisha Tandon OBE, a NOW Group participant, a young voter and a parent.
The campaign emphasises that voting is accessible for everyone who is eligible and addresses some barriers surrounding the voting process that might have previously discouraged people from exercising their right.
The local government elections, taking place on Thursday 2 May, are the first standalone council elections since 1993 and the first election to councils for a full term since the reform of local government in 2015.
Derek McCallan, Chief Executive of NILGA said: “Your votes will return 462 councillors for a four-year term across all of the 11 council areas in Northern Ireland.
“The last local government election, which took place in May 2014, saw only 51% of the electorate use their vote. Councils across Northern Ireland oversee and deliver leisure, waste management, arts, employment and skills, community investment and local development plans – services for today and future generations. It is imperative that we all use our vote and participate in what’s to come for the places in which we work, live and play.
“Councils are currently the only democratically elected functioning body in Northern Ireland, so taking the opportunity to vote for their existing and future services, like City Deals, is very important for democracy and local communities.
“Voting must be a positive experience for everyone. This campaign is about encouraging people to know that voting is accessible for all and that help is available for those who need it.
“Let’s use these elections to give choice, voice and control to communities, through councils.”
Nisha Tandon OBE, Founder and Director of ArtsEkta and participant in the campaign commented: “Councils are helping to support the integration of ethnic groups into the community and there are a number of important events which Councils support throughout the year. However, more needs to be done to ensure that there is full inclusion and support available.
“This is why it is important for people to vote in the upcoming local government elections on Thursday 2 May. People should use this as an opportunity to challenge their local council and councillors and make their voice heard.
“Especially if it is your first time voting in Northern Ireland, it is important to know that it does not have to be a daunting experience. There are staff on hand to help guide you on the day and they can help to explain the process.”