Very local elections will prime parish pump politics

People at an election count
Image caption This week's parish council elections will decide to make-up of ultra-local governance

"It's all happening in Henley-in-Arden," said my colleague.

"Everybody knows that," said I, playing for time. It transpires that what exactly IS happening in Henley is a parish council election.

If there's one happening in your area, you will know all about it. Because while most of the larger district councils are electing for only a third of their seats, a parish council poll is an all-out affair, with a four-year term at stake for the entire assembly.

Parish councils are the lowest tier of our great democracy; they are where politics gets closest to local communities. Some of them represent only a few hundred people.

But at a time when polls suggest most politicians seem disconnected from the public, the parish councils are woven into the warp and weft of our everyday lives.

People care passionately about their recreation grounds, allotments, bus shelters, village halls, cemeteries and swimming pools. And these are all within the ambit of parish councils. They have money-raising powers through a precept collected on top of the Council Tax by district councils.

And typically the parishes hold their elections on the same day as elections for seats on those larger local authorities.

I cannot promise exhaustive analysis of the parish council elections during our programmes this week.

But I hope you will join us just the same. We will be bringing you the picture from all our 18 district councils during Vote 2012 from 23:35 BST on BBC One on Thursday, 3 May.

We will also have the result of Coventry's mayoral referendum.

See my earlier blog posts for the full list of local elections and for more of the background to the Birmingham and Coventry referendums.

And on Friday, 4 May there will be further updates during Midlands Today from the councils counting the following day.

We hope to have the result of Birmingham's mayoral referendum on our main edition of Midlands Today at 18:30 BST on BBC One.

Stay close to your BBC Local Radio and online service for more details on the results where you live.

And I hope you will join me during this weekend's Sunday Politics from 12:00 BST on BBC One on Sunday, 6 May 2012, when i will be talking to some of the winners and the losers.