John Clark writes…
First published: November 2010
I recently received an email saying: ‘The Council is supposed to serve the people who pay rates and taxes…….What do we have Councillors for?’ A very logical approach. If Councils and Councillors ignore people they don’t deserve to represent them.
If politicians don’t make their intentions clear in their election material how does the electorate choose? The General Election Labour candidate stated: “If any party tells the truth about taxation it makes itself unelectable.” So the public end up writing a blank cheque for the ‘other lot.’
At local level there are three current issues where the public have had no prior knowledge, debate or warning. No manifesto even hinted what was over the horizon. The councils are going ahead with no democratic mandate or public support. They are:
- Sale of Wentworth Street car park for yet another supermarket
- A new headquarters for Kirbymoorside Council
- Giving planning permission for housing estates outside the development limits in Ryedale.
No-one even mentioned three years ago about selling off Wentworth Street car park. No hint that Malton/Norton would become a ‘tourist attraction’ for the largest number of supermarkets. Do the people of Ryedale want Malton/Norton to lose most local shops while a plethora of supermarkets fight it out with price wars? Existing small shops will disappear, many of them when the present owners retire. The opportunity for new ones will be negligible. Those who support this approach should have had the ‘bottle’ to say so in the 2007 council elections. The decision should be delayed and councillors should have the ‘bottle’ to stand on this issue next May. If a majority of Ryedale District Council are elected on this platform it would have a mandate.
The new headquarters for Kirbymoorside Council is ludicrous. Why would a town of 2,500 need a head office? The proposal will not provide a new or needed community facility. The cost at £175,000 plus maintenance is beyond belief. The Council Tax level for Kirbymoorside will be comparable with that for a District level. For what? The Town Council does not have a mandate for this expensive project. Again if the Town Councillors believe this is the way forward then put this to the electorate next May.
The third issue is the latest ‘wheeze’ coming from Ryedale District Council. Planning permission is being given for large housing estates outside the development limits of settlements. One permission has been granted in Norton and others are in the pipeline. The claim is that there is a ‘need’ for market housing. What about the number of houses for sale in Ryedale not selling? How many planning permissions have been granted without a single house being built? Another reason given is that the Council will be paid money (Section 106) for infrastructure. All of this has no democratic mandate. It hasn’t yet been through a completed LDF process. It has been described as ‘selling planning permission’. Although legal, it again fails the democratic test and ignores the will of the people.
It is not wise for politicians to ignore the public.