On May 2, 2,063 seats will be contested in 107 council elections and 48 by-elections, not including the various mayoral or 39 Police and Crime Commissioner elections also taking place.

That should be an incredible demonstration of a healthy democracy, yet at around 35 per cent turnout for local elections is often not much more than half that of a general election.

Some tell me: “There’s no point voting in local elections; they are less important than the general election; nothing ever changes; my vote won’t count.” They are clearly turned off by local politics.

The media don’t help. TV pundits often talk about local elections being an opportunity for the electorate to “give the Tories a bloody nose”, as if local elections were nothing more than a sideshow to the main event of the general election.

Why bother voting, especially if it’s raining, if that is the sole outcome of your efforts?

I want to overturn these myths. Local government matters.

Of course national politics is important. But if you want to see a change in your quality of life, look at what is happening at Woking Borough Council. It isn’t just about wheelie bin collection.

The big planning decisions about new housing developments, as well as deciding how to manage housing for vulnerable residents are made by your local councillor. Green spaces, flytipping, noise pollution, flooding and drainage, even the quality of food in your favourite restaurant falls within the purview of your local council.

Local government is responsible for almost a quarter of all public expenditure in England.

People should want a say in how that money is spent.

Local government provides vital services and shapes our communities, but done badly it can hurt the communities it is meant to serve. The actions and decisions of the previous administration at Woking council are having a lasting negative impact on the town today.

People’s votes count; things can change.

In 2019 the Conservatives went into the Woking Borough Council elections as the majority party with 16 councillors. The Lib Dems had eight, Labour three and Independents had the remaining three councillors.

By 2023, Woking had become a Lib Dem-led council with 20 councillors, Conservatives had four, Labour three with Independents holding the remaining three seats. In five years, the voters of Woking had removed 12 Conservative councillors and transformed the council.

Changing these councillors was about more than shuffling seats. It changed the policies and ideas of the council. Woking has now offered the first balanced budget in 10 years and our focus is firmly on tackling the affordable housing needs for Woking.

We may disagree in our politics but all candidates standing next week would agree on how important it is for as many people as possible to use their vote. I would like to thank in advance everyone who votes on May 2, but please don’t forget to bring a suitable form of ID!