Local government made our cities the great places they are today: water and sanitation, street works, street lighting, police and criminal justice, social services, parks, libraries, schools, birth marriage and death registration, coroners, theatres, concert halls and leisure facilities. Local government is what makes your city a civilised, enlightened place to live. We have started to take it for granted, and now these much maligned organisations are being cut to the bone for austerity, its structures sold off for profit. Civilisation is slowly being taken away. Never forget the lessons of history!

The Victorian Commons

This month marks the anniversary of a completely new system of local elections being implemented throughout England and Wales. One hundred and eighty years ago, almost 180 boroughs in England and Wales began to publish the lists of all those eligible to vote in the new town council elections created by the 1835 Municipal Reform Act. Barely three weeks after the Act’s passage, specially appointed revising barristers started setting up registration courts to decide who would be able to vote in what initally looked like being a remarkably democratic franchise. Unlike the parliamentary household vote – only given to those occupying property worth at least £10 a year in rental value – the new municipal franchise had no minimum property requirement. In theory every male householder, no matter how humble his dwelling, would be able to take part.

Hand written council voting paper, 1835 Hand written council voting paper, 1835

As the revising barristers set about…

View original post 645 more words