UNISON opinion: Make sure that you use your vote this Thursday

Choose who you can trust to put you and your family first

Hand of a woman voting

By UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea

Up for election in England and Wales this Thursday are 41 police and crime commissioners, thousands of councillors, 10 metro mayors and all 25 London Assembly members.

This election is about putting your trust in the right people to deliver local services in your town or city, and about who you want to be responsible for your local police force. It’s also the last set of local results we will get before the general election.

The prime minister is still refusing to announce the date of that election. It’s most likely he hasn’t even decided yet – just loitering around, waiting to see if he needs to call it quickly before being ousted by his party.

But when it comes to this Thursday, I hope voters will remember that Conservative politicians have been responsible for huge funding cuts to policing and thousands of vacant roles as police forces withhold over 4,000 posts to manage budget deficits.

That includes our members working as police support staff – investigators, custody and detention officers, 999 call-takers, scene of crime officers, are just a few of the vital roles they do. Neighbourhood policing is suffering too and today we all feel much less safe.

UNISON’s own research shows that forces in England and Wales could face a combined budget shortfall of £720m by 2026, putting public safety at grave risk. The result of political choices from the Westminster government.

When you vote for your councillors and mayor, or your London Assembly member, you are choosing what you want for the places where you live and work. The people you vote in could have an impact on regional inequality, growth and prosperity, safe communities, affordable housing, accessible public transport and clean air.

The services you and your family rely on every day, can only continue with politicians who believe in investing in them. After 14 years of cuts by the Conservative government, I know I can only trust Labour with our essential services and that’s the party that will get my vote this week.

This Thursday, make sure you head to the polls and choose who you can trust to put you and your family first. And don’t forget to bring your photo ID to the polling station.