Decision day’s here: Lancashire voters head to the polls

Springer spaniels Hattie and Evie, less than impressed with the local elections, in New Longton
Springer spaniels Hattie and Evie, less than impressed with the local elections, in New Longton

It is decision day for Lancashire’s voters who will today (May 4) decide which party or parties will run Lancashire County Council.

In total 84 councillors will be elected to represent local divisions across 12 Lancashire districts.

Jo Turton, the chief executive of Lancashire County Council.

Jo Turton, the chief executive of Lancashire County Council.

Polling stations opened at 7am and will close at 10pm.

The links below contain full candidate lists for each area:

Lancashire County Council elections 2017: Burnley candidates

Lancashire County Council elections 2017: Chorley candidates

Lancashire County Council elections 2017: Fylde candidates

Lancashire County Council elections 2017: Hyndburn candidates

Lancashire County Council elections 2017: Lancaster candidates

Lancashire County Council elections 2017: Preston candidates

Lancashire County Council elections 2017: Ribble Valley candidates

Lancashire County Council elections 2017: Rossendale candidates

Lancashire County Council elections 2017: South Ribble candidates

Lancashire County Council elections 2017: West Lancashire candidate

Lancashire County Council elections 2017: Wyre candidates

With venues ranging from village and community halls to chapels and churches, one of the most unusual will be Littletown Dairy on the outskirts of Chipping.

At the last county elections turnout was just 31% and parties are hoping that many more people will register their votes this year.

Lancashire County Council’s chief executive Jo Turton said: “This is an important time to have your say on the services that we provide, which can affect the lives of everyone in Lancashire.

“Our elections are only held every four years, so your vote helps to choose the people who will take important decisions about council services in the coming years.”

The great unknown is whether the general election will have overshadowed local campaigns and turnout, inspiring increased zeal or fatigue for matters politic.

Dr Mark Garnett, politics lecturer at Lancaster University, notes it could go either way.

He said: “National Government seems to have totally disregarded local politics by calling a general election in the middle of a local election campaign.”

Dr Garnett believes political sensitivities are high because more people have been affected by cuts: “It’s a much more politically sensitive area than even it was in 2013.”

With those cuts affecting everyday services ranging from social care to roads and libraries the public has plainly seen the impact austerity on local government.

He said: “It does drive home how important local government is.

While on the national stage there is a larger agenda: “Parties will use the local elections as a kind of dress rehearsal for the general election. They will use it as a way of making sure their foot soldiers, their local supporters, are enthused and mobilised.”

He concludes the battle lines are still wide open on local government cuts – with the issue of who is to blame – the Government or the council – dividing parties and voters alike.

It means, even now it is an election which could be too close to call.

Counting takes place on Friday morning in districts, with the results also relayed to County Hall. The final county result is expected mid afternoon on Friday, depending on voter turnout.