Elections will be held in each of the 22 Local Authorities in Wales on May 5 2022. In many places, there will also be elections for Town or Community Councillors. At all these elections, those aged 16 and 17 are eligible to vote, as well as those over 18, and many overseas citizens are also eligible to vote. The Electoral Commission website allows you to check whether you are eligible to vote.
In order to vote you must register by April 14 2022.
On this page we will post information about some of the topics which will be important in these elections and suggest some questions you may wish to ask candidates – face to face on the doorstep, or by letter or email during the campaign.
Local authorities and the climate crisis
Whilst local government action is largely dependent on funding and the way powers are devolved, local authorities can make a real difference in tackling the climate crisis. Research from the Local Government Association estimates that local authorities have powers or influence over roughly a third of all emissions in their area. You can question candidates on their climate plans in five key areas:
1. Making decarbonisation plans
In Wales, all local councils have published decarbonisation plans. All are committed to reaching net zero for their own operations by 2030 as part of Welsh Government’s overall aim of a net zero public sector by that date, and to contributing further to the goal of a net zero Wales by 2050. The task is now to scrutinise the quality of these plans and hold councils accountable for implementing them. You can see how your council compares to others and identify what they can improve at https://councilclimatescorecards.uk/.
Effective, carbon-neutral and safe public transport systems will play a key role in a just and green recovery locally. Neighbouring councils work together as regional joint committees to oversee regional transport plans and can prioritise decarbonisation efforts. They can also play a key role in supporting the transition to electric vehicle use and developing walking and cycling infrastructure.
Councils play a key role in ensuring new buildings are energy efficient and old buildings can be retrofitted with better insulation and heating systems. This applies both to council-owned buildings and privately owned buildings, as they oversee planning and regulation (although they are constrained by standards set by national government). They can map the local housing stock and understand best what the specific needs of people and place are in their area.
All councils can encourage the development of clean energy infrastructure. They can bring relevant local partners together to develop plans for the future of local energy, can influence clean energy infrastructure implementation with planning policy, and offer support for local people and community energy organisations to undertake energy projects.
Councils are responsible for the collection and disposal of waste. They can take steps to increase recycling, implement food and garden waste collections, and improve communications about appropriate waste disposal.
What’s the vision?
The climate crisis is the most urgent issue of our times, and justice for people and planet is central to our theology. The energy built around COP26 has somewhat died down, as international agreements disappoint and disaffect concerned communities on the ground. Engaging on climate issues at a local level, by supporting our councils to make net zero a reality in our neighbourhoods, presents a much more accessible opportunity for churches to seek justice in their communities. As we make changes to our own lifestyles, homes and buildings, churches can lead the way locally in helping authorities to achieve a just transition to net zero.
Questions for candidates
- What are the first steps you will be taking to ensure the success of your local council’s Decarbonisation Plan?
- What additional powers and resources do you require from national government to be able to accelerate the transition to net zero in this neighbourhood?
- How will you ensure that the transition to net zero is a just and fair transition, particularly for those already struggling with the cost of living?
- How can my church, along with other local civil society groups, support you in achieving this?
- Hope in God’s Future: our theological reflection on environmental matters
- A detailed summary of what local government can achieve on net zero
- Council Climate Scorecards: compare councils’ climate action plans
- Welsh Local Government Decarbonisation Planning Review Sept 2021
- See all the data on local councils’ climate declarations
- Campaigners’ guide to engaging councils on their climate plans
- Find out what’s happening near you
Document prepared by Matt Ceaser with input from Gethin Rhys, March 2022
Information correct at time of writing.
Migration, asylum and refugees
Questions around migration and asylum have become issues right at the forefront of political discussion over the last year. The continuing impact of leaving the European Union and the humanitarian crises in Afghanistan and Ukraine have been brought into sharper focus as the UK Government advances its ‘Nationality and Borders Bill’ which would place tougher restrictions on how people can legally enter the country.
Whilst policy is set at a UK level, its implementation is overseen by Welsh Government and local authorities. Councils work to support and deliver the many programmes for refugees and asylum seekers currently in operation. Councils seek to work with UK and Welsh governments to find sustainable solutions that minimise the pressures on local authorities, their communities and vulnerable individuals. All local authorities in Wales are participating in the Afghan Resettlement Scheme. Local authorities also have a responsibility to administrate and ensure the smooth and safe running of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, for which they receive national funding.
Asylum seekers and refugees
People who originally came to the UK to seek asylum made up an estimated 5% of the UK’s foreign-born population and 0.6% of the UK’s total resident population in 2019. So, they make up a small yet significant and growing minority in the UK.
Since 2015, a new refugee resettlement programme has been operating, which brings refugees directly from emergency situations to the UK. Every local authority in Wales has offered sanctuary to refugees in this way over the past few years. This is part of the Welsh Government aim that Wales should be a Nation of Sanctuary for those fleeing war and persecution, a move started by churches and others in Welsh society. Most people who have been welcomed to Wales in recent years from outside Europe have come from Syria or the wider Middle East and North Africa region.
Local authorities are responsible for the integration of migrants and refugees that they house – this includes measures such as healthcare, education access, housing advice and connections with community organisations. Local authorities, therefore, have an important role to play in fostering community cohesion.
Welcoming the stranger
As Christians, we hold the conviction that all people are equally created in God’s image. As churches, we believe firmly that our country should offer sanctuary to refugees and that we must seek to foster a culture of inclusion to all, regardless of their background or nationality. We take inspiration from the Bible, such as the instructions in Leviticus 19 to love ‘foreigners’ as oneself and native-born people, or Jesus’ story in Matthew 5 regarding welcoming a stranger as if we are welcoming Jesus himself.
Churches are well placed to provide community and care for those who have lost homes and family and are recovering from trauma. Churches are also playing a role in connecting sponsors with asylum seekers as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme. Therefore, good relationships between churches and local authorities can significantly enhance our neighbourhoods.
Globally, the number of people displaced from their homes is at an all-time high; conflict, human rights abuses, climate change and poverty can all contribute. How local communities adapt to the reality of increased migration – and more importantly develop an effective strategy to welcome the stranger – will remain important in the years to come.
Questions for candidates
- Do you support the aim for Wales to become a Nation of Sanctuary for those fleeing war and persecution?
- How would you ensure our area continues to play its part in welcoming Afghan refugees/asylum seekers as part of the Afghan Resettlement Scheme?
- What role do you see the council playing in welcoming and integrating asylum seekers and refugees, including Ukrainian asylum seekers?
Document prepared by Ryan McMahon with input from Gethin Rhys, April 2022
Information correct at time of writing.