Councillor Glenn Hall (Con) ran into some flack at a public debate on the Tunbridge Wells Regeneration Company for having the temerity to suggest that progress had been blighted by a small group of the elderly and troublemakers who write to the local newspaper but do not represent the views of the wider public. He was jeered for his trouble. In one respect I agree with councillor Hall. I have dubbed the group he refers to as the Aspic Brigade, in that the group is opposed to major change to the townscape and in particular redevelopment of the civic complex.
I suppose I am, in councillor Hall's eyes, elderly, a troublemaker and I write occasionally to the local newspaper. However, my agenda would not find favour with the Aspic Brigade.
The approach adopted by councillor Hall is deeply undemocratic and the negation of the concept of a free society, as pointed out in a splendid letter in today's Courier by the Liberal Democrat candidate in my ward at the forthcoming local elections.
May be councillor Hall will reflect on his statement when the elderly, angered by the 'granny tax' in the recent budget, cast their votes for any party other than the Conservatives. It is rather dim to be ageist.
On the democracy front the idea has been floated by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to create a Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Council. A good idea in my opinion. However, the chairman of Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Forum has expressed his opposition and commented in the Courier newspaper thus:
...my members don't want to be involved in hustings and putting leaflets through doors.
The simple answer is to have both an elected town council and an unelected forum.
The Leader of the Council is quoted thus:
It's not working as a committee should, it's somewhat aggressive. Borough councillors are not always happy to sit in the middle and be grilled.
Poor shrinking violets. Seems to me the Town Forum is doing an excellent job in challenging councillors. Make them accountable, and not just at election time.