Westminster is vary far away from us here in Northumberland – and Morpeth often seems just as remote to communities in Tynedale, especially with our unitary system of “local” government.

 The way the NCC is ruled through a small Executive usually dominated by a single party doesn’t help, either. Do any of us know the names of our masters, let alone ever see any of them?

We have a small window of democracy coming on May 6. To me it seems very important this time that we cast our votes thoughtfully.

The still-lamented Tynedale District Council worked best with a healthy mixture councillors, of all parties and independents, who respected each other and saw that the most able people from whatever grouping took the lead in its various committees. They got on with doing the best job for the people of the whole district, sharing practical ideas and priorities.

The years ahead for Northumberland, post-pandemic and Brexit, will be hard indeed for all of us. There will be very little money available for the council or for voluntary organisations this far from London, and it is vital that what resources the council has are spent wisely.

So when we cast our votes, let us choose the best man or woman standing, who will be a wise and effective representative of one of our very diverse communities, rather than take part in a popularity contest for national politics.

I’ve looked at the complete list of candidates – they come from all four main parties and there’s a good sprinkling of independents and others. 

We need a council made up of the most able, most hard working and most caring among them to keep our heads above water, whether we live in hamlets, towns or commuting areas, in the difficult times we and our planet face.