Local elections are often seen as a prism through which to view national politics, as an indication of the strength of government and opposition in parliament. But they are vitally important in their own right. Councils are a fundamental part of British democracy, providing the essential services that citizens rely on every single day. And, with many councils up and down the country facing their biggest budget cuts in the last decade, the stakes couldn't be higher.
Local elections are the ones that really matter. So much of what local government provides goes beyond bin collection and street lighting. County authorities alone are responsible for £30bn a year spent on essential public services – from social care and children's services to roads, schools and investment in vital local infrastructure. When the public vote on 4 May they will be deciding who'll run their services, whether their families will receive adequate care in old age or get places in schools, and who will work to improve or not the economic outlook of their local area.
See here for more information on the elections including the local candidates