River Wissey Lovell Fuller

How to keep our own council

January 2002

You didn't vote for them, so why are they there?

During the past half-century, and in particular during the past 20 years, there has been too much development on flood-plains, with the inevitable consequences. We should hold to account greedy developers and conniving local authorities desperate to build as many houses as possible as quickly as possible. Often planning applications for such sites are turned down, only for the decision to be reversed on appeal. It doesn't take a genius to work out why!" This quoted verbatim from the Weathereye Column in Saturday's Daily Telegraph.

The point that I wish to address is the obvious inference that inducements are made to councillors in order for them to grant planning permission. Certainly, in the floods of the last eighteen months, many times I have heard unfortunate flooded house-owners say that it was a disgrace that permission had been given for their house to be built when all along it was known that the area was a floodplain and that such councillors should never have been voted into power.

Here is the crux of the matter. How many of these poor beleaguered people did in fact try to affect the composition of the council? Very few, I dare say, as the average voting percentage in local council elections is circa 20% - usually lower. Also, we allow candidates to stand on the political ticket rather than on a local independent one. Hence we get the bodies of people that we deserve.

Until some government grasps the nettle and fundamentally changes the way that local councils members are elected and give encouragement to voters to make them think that they can play an actual part in securing the right people, nepotism, backhanders and the like will continue to be the norm. Councillors like those in King's Lynn who have caused such a furore over parking charges, will continue to be in office because we voted them there, or rather, we did not!

Graham Forster

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