Pioneering website made 'for Sheffield' helping you to discover your council candidate goes live ahead of election day
A website showing people their local election candidates and ‘pulled together in about 10 days’ has gone live this week to help Sheffielders engage in the election on May 6.
Whoismycouncillor.co.uk allows visitors to find candidates standing for election in their area through an easy search tool split into ward, party or postcode.
The website was set up by a group of Sheffielders who wanted to know more about who they could vote for at the local elections on May 6, and, as this year there are no physical hustings, and much less door-knocking, they wanted to give the voters ‘more information’.
Eleanor Holmshaw, from Sharrow, helped set up the website. She said: “It came from conversations about the election, and a general feeling that the people I spoke to didn’t feel like they had enough information.
"I have been to an election before and I have spoilt my ballot because I just didn’t recognise any of the names. I am very aware that candidates work really to make people aware, but the way information is being received is just changing so much, and so we wanted to create an easy way for candidates to get their information online.
"Hopefully that will empower voters to make them feel like they are able to make a decision based on that information, and therefore more engagement with our democratic system.”
The team behind the website found that the average turnout for Sheffield in the 2019 local election was 31 per cent, lower than the national average.
The website is the first designed solely for local elections in a particular region, putting Sheffield and Sheffielders at the forefront, and hoping to increase engagement.
"We have found that there are sites like this for general elections, and one that works nationally, but what we wanted is to build one that was for Sheffield and focused on issues in Sheffield, rather than the whole of the UK,” said Eleanor
"Local is a very important and powerful thing, so we wanted to make sure that Sheffield had that.”
As well as showing you who the candidates are, it gives some background information on them and their policies, meaning you can vote for an individual rather than a party.
The website went live on Monday, April 19, after being pulled together in just 10 days, and Eleanor has already tested it on her grandmother to rave reviews.
She said: "We pulled it together in about 10 days, which on reflection was a bit of a mad idea. But that means it has just been extra nice to see people engaging with it so well, and also engagement with some of the parties as a tool for them to use.
"I showed it to my grandma yesterday, and she had not had any leaflets or anything, but she is 80 and she really wants to vote.
"She has her iPad, which she is a bit of terrified of, but it was really interesting to see the way she interacted with it."