The Euro elections are just over a week away.
Some 83 candidates are vying for your vote on May 22, but only eight will get the golden ticket that sends them to the European Parliament to represent the north-west region.
Local candidates in the 2014 poll include Simon Noble, from Oakenclough, near Garstang, who was a Conservative member of Lancashire County Council but is standing for UKIP, university professor Ulrike Zeshan, from Broughton, and Kevin Morrison, from Thornton Cleveleys, both of whom are candidates for the Greens.
But, despite the major power and influence the European Parliament has on all our lives, and the funding it provides for so many initiatives, only one in three of us is predicted to turn out to vote.
Voters in the Garstang and Longridge areas are, along with the rest of Lancashire, grouped with Cumbria, Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside in the north- west region, which elects eight MEPs through proportional representation.
Ten parties are putting up eight candidates each in the region. An 11th, the Pirate Party UK, is fielding three.
Under the PR system electors vote for a party, not an individual. The total vote for each party in the region will decide how many of the north- west’s eight seats they take, with candidates listed by their parties in order of preference.
The Conservatives triumphed in 2009 taking three seats, with Labour bagging two, the Liberal Democrats one, UKIP one and British National Party leader Nick Griffin taking the other.
With three of the “class of 2009” standing down – Tory Sir Robert Atkins, from Garstang, will be waved off at the same time as Labour’s ~ Arlene McCarthy and Brian Simpson – the remaining five North West MEPs are all seeking re-election.
Conservatives Jacqueline Foster, from Wirral, and Sajjad Karim, from Burnley, are their party’s top two picks.
Nick Griffin, the BNP’s only serving MEP, is standing again.
Lytham-born Chris Davies tops the Lib Dems’ candidate list and UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall, from Bootle, will go again.
Simon Noble is sixth pick for UKIP, meaning the party would need a landslide victory for him to be elected.
Lancashire can boast the youngest European candidate in the entire country in this year’s election, with Joe Barker-Willis (24), from Morecambe, one of the Conservatives’ eight-strong field. The former Morecambe High School head boy is number five on the Tory list.
University of Central Lancashire lecturer Wajid Khan, who teaches about the European Union, is one of Labour’s candidates, along with Theresa Griffin who has been on the Labour list in previous Euro elections.
The Green Party candidates include two who live in Lancashire.
County Coun Gina Dowding, who represents Lancaster Central at County Hall, is second on the Greens’ list anduniversity professor Ulrike Zeshan (43), who lives in Broughton is sixth, Kevin Morrison, from Thornton Cleveleys, is eighth on the NO2EU list.
Other parties fielding candidates in the North West are An Independence from Europe, English Democrats, No2EU and the Socialist Equality Party.
Polls are open from 7am to 10pm on polling day.
For more information about the poll see the European election pages on www.wyre.gov.uk or www.ribble valley.gov.uk