I wonder how many people travelling by Metro to the centre of Newcastle look up at the Monument which gives the station its name.
Grey’s Monument was erected by a grateful people for the role played by Earl Grey, the Prime Minister in 1832 when the Great Reform Act was passed. The Act increased the number of voters, tried to end corruption in constituencies and gave the new industrial areas a greater say.
The anniversary of the Great Reform Act falls on February 5, and that’s the day chosen by ‘Bite the Ballot’ for the first ever National Day of Voter Registration.
The purpose is to get people – particularly young people – to sign up to a more robust, reliable register before we make the transition to individual electoral registration.
But the aim of the national day goes beyond that. It is hoped that organisations and groups across communities in actively signing up people to the register will help to empower young people and show that they have a say and a stake in the decisions affecting their lives.
Businesses are urged to get involved and schools are asked to highlight the merits and responsibilities of citizenship.
But I hope there’s also the appeal of empowerment of younger people who are perhaps as much aware of their rights as their responsibilities. I look forward to events across our local community, encouraging people to sign up to the local electoral register.