COMMENT: Democracy is what we make of it, so we should get involved

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In my time as a local newspaper reporter, people seem to be disengaged with politics until it really affects them and I can’t blame them.

Many decisions taken at council meetings are not newsworthy or don’t have a large impact on our lives.

But when the politicians do make those big decisions about the things we care about, we do and should get involved if we want a say in the result.

We have seen public debate rage recently about the green waste collections, last year it was the controversial plans for Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre and the ongoing debate about where houses should be built in the Horsham district (and elsewhere) continues to be cause for concern for many.

It is then the public see the side of politics that councillors - and journalists - see everyday. And they don’t always like it.

‘They’re a bunch of amateurs,’ one onlooker told me after seeing Horsham District Council in action.

On reflection of that, I would say councillors have interests which they use to serve the public in different areas of the council, but they are not experts.

One thing they do have in common is that they want to make a difference - and let’s not forget they were put there by the public who elected them to make sometimes difficult decisions.

If you feel disengaged with council decisions and feel your voice never gets heard maybe the answer is to get more involved. It could make a difference.

In May all the 71 seats on West Sussex County Council are up for election. Currently the council is made up of 49 Conservative members, 18 Liberal Democrat members, three Labour members and one Independent.

If that’s not what you want, then change it by either getting out to vote or standing yourself.

You don’t have to have any previous experience and the nomination period runs from March 26 to noon April 5.

For more information call 033022 22521 for a copy of the ‘Be a Councillor’ Guide or go to http://www.westsussex.gov.uk/your_council/councillors__and_democracy/elections.aspx