Friday, 13 April 2012

It's called democracy, freedom of speech and accountability

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: 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.

1 comment:

  1. So in the Town Forum, a place where Resident Association representatives can meet with their councillors and discuss issues of mutual interest that effect the un-parished area, in an informal setting, councillors are sometimes addressed aggressively by their residents.

    Well you shrinking violets, get out on the doorstep and hear what the real residents are saying about you.

    So in its place we are going to have a Town Council. This would remove our Borough Councillors from the aggressive comments of the representatives of the Residents' Association.

    Well no. The aggressive comments would then come from the Town Councilors to the Borough councillors because there would be little delegation of powers from the Borough to the Town council

    Yes but this is all part of the coalition government's drive for greater localism of services.

    well no. In reality it is about abrogation of responsibility and distancing elected representatives from their electorate.

    Localism is going to put a greater work load on our councillors ( Leader interview with Courier )

    well no. Localism is about devolving power to the individual and communities , the work load of a councilor will decrease but a councilors advocacy could be in greater demand and when you recognise that the town has nineteen councillors, if they all, at one time, attended the Town Forum, they would exceed the number of Resident Association representatives by a margin.