The improved weather this week will come as welcome relief to the thousands of people campaigning ahead of May 5th local elections. Saturation of the airwaves by the EU campaign means you could be forgiven for overlooking the fact that in two weeks we’ll be having one of the largest and most important set of local elections for some time. London will go to the polls to elect a new Mayor, along with the Welsh Assembly, all Metropolitan Boroughs and some Unitaries, 70 or so District Councils and of course Police & Crime Commissioners. Across England, council candidates are nervously campaigning, volunteers are clocking up hundreds of miles delivering leaflets, and a flurry of posters are starting to go up.
Developers tend to avoid doing anything too high profile at such times, for fear of inflaming local tensions - but that shouldn’t be a reason to stay quiet. Candidates will be spending most of their days and evenings walking around their wards, delivering leaflets and chatting to voters. The production rate of promotional leaflets will have gone up rapidly, meaning that Candidates are feeling under pressure to find new content. This can mean that they are more willing to write about local development schemes more than usual and so in turn means developers would be wise to keep candidates informed about their plans. Just yesterday I met with a councillor to show her around a site in her ward – she was using the scheme as a story in her next leaflet and wanted to make sure she had up to date information about what was proposed.
And what of the possible outcomes and their effect on our industry? Well of course that largely depends on the outcome in the relevant local authority. Labour are expecting to lose some seats (even their own team is predicting losses of around 200 seats) which could have effects locally in particular on issues like affordable housing provision. There will be some interesting councils to watch out for, especially those like Bristol and Liverpool which will see Mayoral elections at the same time. Here at MPC we will of course be keeping a close eye – on both the elections generally and their likely impacts for our clients.
This article was written by CEO Anna Sabine.