Hertfordshire County Council elections - who will get your vote on Thursday?
PUBLISHED: 14:30 02 May 2017 | UPDATED: 15:40 02 May 2017
Despite the national media obsession with June's General Election, voters across Hertfordshire face another important poll this week.
In Thursday’s vote, opposition parties are hoping to dent the 16-strong County Hall overall majority that ensures Conservative control over many crucial Hertfordshire services, including schools, social services, libraries, most road maintenance, and waste disposal.
Hertfordshire County Council receives about three-quarters of council tax, with an £815million current year budget that dwarfs the puny finances of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and its neighbouring authorities.
The election will increase the total of county councillors from 77 to 78, as there will be a new division - Hatfield East.
At present, 46 Conservatives in County Hall are opposed by 14 Labour members and 16 Lib Dems, with a vacant seat in Stevenage.
Representing the Welwyn Hatfield divisions, Tories Richard Smith, Sara Johnston and Mark Mills-Bishop are balanced by Lib Dems Paul Zukowskyj, Malcolm Cowan, and Labour’s Maureen Cook and Lynn Chesterman.
Councillor Cook, who represents Hatfield North, said: “I and other Labour candidates will be standing up for the NHS and for social care. There is a crisis in social care, and the county council has sat idly by while £5billion [nationally] has been cut from social care provision.
e We will make sure that school children have a local school place. It is disgraceful that once again the county council have got their figures wrong [for Hatfield primary school places].”
Councillor Zukowskyj, who sits for Hatfield South, said:“If you want your voice heard, a sensible housing plan with proper infrastructure, roads and pavements fixed and strong voices for your local area, then vote Liberal Democrat.”
Conservative Richard Smith, who represents the Welwyn division, said: “Unlike many councils, we [the Conservatives] have coped with the recent financial squeeze. We have kept open all our libraries, children’s centres and household waste sites; provide nationally-commended social care services, and have helped over 90 per cent of schools achieve ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ inspection outcomes.
“Only the Conservatives have the experience and determination to cut bureaucratic costs, protect front line services and balance the books while keeping the council tax under control.”