Soapbox – Countdown to local elections

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CANDIDATES will go head-to-head at the Local Elections in South Tyneside on May 3. Joseph Tulip asked people in South Shields about how they will use their vote.

THE countdown to next month’s local elections in South Tyneside has started.

No fewer than 71 candidates will contest the borough’s 18 wards on Thursday, May 3.

But while many people are passionate about who represents their area, others say they are simply not interested in a poll which promises to be the most eagerly-fought in years.

Retired ship engineer Norman White, 80, of Simonside, South Shields, insists that every vote could be crucial.

He said: “I always vote, and I will again this time, although I don’t know who I am going to vote for.

“If you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain, because you’re not taking part.

“Not as many people bother themselves nowadays, but there is a lot of dissatisfaction with politics in general.”

Grandmother-of-six Lilian Spence, 64, of Mile End Road, in South Shields’s Beacon and Bents ward, will also be casting a vote.

She said: “I always vote for a Labour candidate. I like to find out what they have to say, because it’s all for our own good.

“If we are interested in our town and want things to improve, we have to show some level of interest.”

Retired home care worker Hazel Moore, of Marsden, says local elections can have a huge impact on jobs and services.

The 73-year-old said: “Everyone knows that we need more jobs in South Tyneside, and I want to see more things to do for the children.

“We have to take the local elections seriously.

“The candidates are all seeking a limited number of positions, and they are important.”

Derek Roy, a 34-year-old DJ, of Beach Road in South Shields’s Beacon and Bents ward, believes many young people won’t vote on May 3.

He said: “I am not really interested – I don’t know who the election candidates are, and I won’t be voting. I think it’s just the way it’s presented. It seems to appeal more to the older generation.

“I think if it was on Facebook or Twitter, the younger people would be keen to get involved.

“It’s a shame we can’t pull all elements of society together, because there are issues in South Shields that need to be addressed, including the closure of too many shops.”

James Pickering, 18, of Cleadon, is an A-level student at St Joseph’s RC Comprehensive School in Mill Lane, Hebburn.

He said: “I am not sure it’s marketed in the right way.

“I won’t be voting, but it should be more appealing to young people, especially when there are issues which affect us, such as high tuition fees.”

Doreen Ashby, 89, a retired clothing factory worker, of South Shields, said: “I live in the Beacon and Bents ward, and hope Labour gets in.

“Only by voting can we have our say in what happens in our area.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazjoe