Hundreds of candidates across the county will be hoping for your X in their box tomorrow (Thursday, May 6) as no fewer than three elections take place.
Voters will be asked to vote for their Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner, along with their ward representatives on Lincolnshire County Council, North East Lincolnshire Council and City of Lincoln Council.
In total there are nearly 100 positions to be filled by 366 candidacies – so how will this year’s elections work?
Polling, counting and results
Polling stations across the area will be open from 7am to 10pm tomorrow, and voters will find the address for their venue on their polling cards.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be several noticeable changes, with thousands of items of personal protection equipment stored at councils across Lincolnshire as officers ramp up preparations.
For instance, queues will look much longer due to social distancing. But don’t worry, staff will be working to get people through the door as fast as possible.
Polling stations will have hand sanitiser on arrival, voters will be asked to wear face coverings and socially distance.
Speaking of staff, you may notice they will be protected this year, from masks all the way to protective screens.
Several new polling stations, including local pubs, visitor centres and scout halls, are among those being used this year in a bid to be COVID-compliant.
Due to the changes, the councils will not be counting votes overnight. Instead, the next few days will look like this:
- Thursday, May 6 – Voting takes place from 7am to 10pm
- Thursday night – Votes in Lincolnshire will be verified
- Friday morning – County council votes will be counted and announced, North East Lincolnshire will verify its votes
- Friday afternoon – City council and North East Lincolnshire council votes will be counted and announced
- Saturday – Votes for the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner counted and announced
Lincolnshire County Council
More than 250 candidates in almost 70 wards are standing in the Lincolnshire County Council elections.
The Conservatives have overall control of the council with 54 of 70 seats, with Labour having five and needing to gain 50 seats for a majority.
The Independents currently have six seats, independent (non-aligned councillors) have two, Liberal Democrats have one and Lincolnshire Independents also have one. There is a vacancy currently at Market Rasen Wolds ward.
Counts for the county council will take place within each of the seven district councils, with returning officers relaying the information back to a main results centre at the County Offices in Lincoln.
The four main political party leaders have previously laid out their thoughts on the main issues in the county and their priorities, including potholes, street lighting and fly-tipping.
The council will, sadly, be losing some veteran members who have chosen to step down this year, including Tony Turner MBE JP, a Conservative West Lindsey councillor for 67 years, but in their place are some young fresh faces hoping to step into the fray, including 18-year-old Lincolnshire Independent candidate George Lundgren.
A full list of candidates is available here.
City of Lincoln Council
Almost 50 candidates in 11 wards are standing in the City of Lincoln elections next month.
Labour has overall control of the council with 24 seats, while the Conservatives have nine and needing to gain eight seats for a majority.
In a series of interviews with Local Democracy Reporters, Labour Party leader Ric Metcalfe said he wanted to build on the success of the party over its last decade in power.
He said his party’s record for the city would help his members to victory, praising the council’s help for residents during COVID-19, significant resistance to the financial crisis, building new car parks and bus stations and moving forward on delivering 500 new homes.
However, Conservative Thomas Dyer said it was “time for change” and said his party hoped to topple their opponents.
He promoted pop-in parking in the town centre, better infrastructure, more action of climate change and bringing forward the £25million Town Deal schemes.
Parties hoping to get their foot in the door included the Liberal Democrats whose priorities include tougher measures on fly-tipping and protecting front-line services, while the Greens wanted to ensure energy efficient homes were in the right place and away from flood plains, while wildflower habitats along grass verges would promote the storage of CO2 and reduce the frequency of mowing.
A full list of candidates is available here.
North East Lincolnshire
There are 61 candidates contesting 14 ward seats in the North East Lincolnshire Council elections next month.
Conservatives took overall control of the council in 2019 after gaining five sears to a total of 23. The party wrestled control from a Labour/Liberal Democrat alliance, with the former party now holding 14 seats and the latter now having four.
Ahead of the election Labour had faced a number of controversial decisions, including the Toll Bar Roundabout and their former party leader being arrested (and later in the year convicted) for drink-driving.
However, it’s entirely possible the red wall in the unitary authority could be rebuilt with just a few reclaimed chairs in the council hall.
Despite some successes over the past two years the Conservatives have seen their own choices questioned and their own controversy around their (now resigned) deputy leader Councillor John Fenty’s dealings with a convicted fraudster.
Labour leader Matthew Patrick said said his party had learnt the lessons of the last election and accepts that a lack of engagement and consultation contributed to their downfall.
He said the party had been and would continue to “slowly but surely” rebuild residents trust, and his party this year are focusing on clean streets, tackling fly-tipping, boosting the economic growth of the area, protecting support for more vulnerable residents and increasing mental health support.
However, Conservative leader Philip Jackson felt his party had proved themselves in their first two years in power and said residents recognised the good progress made despite COVID-19.
He pointed to the party’s immediate success with the Toll Bar Roundabout.
His plan is to build on things like street cleaning, the Town Deal, the regeneration of Grimsby and Cleethorpes and increasing recycling rates.
A full list of candidates is available here.
Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner
The Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections has five candidates all fighting for the position.
Votes will be asked to select their first and second preference at the polling booths.
The PCC oversees the strategy and finances of the force, and also hires and fires chief constables, who are responsible for the daily policing operations.
Marc Jones was the second-elected PCC of Lincolnshire in May 2016 and this time his role is being challenged by Labour City of Lincoln councillor Rosanne Kirk and Chair of the Lincolnshire Police Independent Advisory Group (IAG), David Williams from the Lincolnshire Independents party, Ross Pepper from the Liberal Democrats and Peter Escreet from the Reform Party.
Marc has said he is standing again for PCC because he has “unfinished business” and wants to continue his work.
His plans, if re-elected, include a new £250,000 anti fly-tipping fund and £500,000 rural crime fund to tackle crime in rural areas in Lincolnshire.
Rosanne has led her campaign on promises to cut down the PCC salary from £65,000 to £40,000, investing the remaining £25,000 in frontline policing resources.
She also wants to scrap the “unelected” position of deputy PCC, estimated at £72,000 across four years, and put that money towards tackling rural crime.
David wants to use his experience of working for Lincolnshire Police Independent Advisory Group as well as with youth offenders to increase community engagement and boost the visibility of the PCC and its deputy who, he said, will be a female and from a diverse background if he is elected.
He said that as PCC he would not just attend meetings, but drive the agenda for the county going forward.
Ross Pepper said the current “crime and punishment approach doesn’t seem to work” and he wants to look at the root causes of crime to prevent it from happening, claiming that “fighting crime when it happens is crucially vital, but crime prevention is equally as, if not more, important as well.”
His other key priorities are fair funding for Lincolnshire Police, a return to community policing, tackling serious crime, support for victims, safer streets and a crackdown on speeding traffic.
Peter’s main criticisms of the force’s current practices are ‘outdated technologies’ and funding shortfalls, issues which he believes his experience in IT and the private sector puts him in the position to fix.
He does not think he will have a deputy and blamed low morale on “bad management”.
The Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner candidates were all given a chance to have their say on key issues at a live hustings hosted by the BBC and The Lincolnite.
All the candidates have said they will call for more money from Central Government for Lincolnshire Police – the worst funded force in the country.