Independent councillor calls for more Independent Councillors

[At her manifesto launch] Mrs Wright called for more councillors of other political parties to stand at this May’s town and district council elections, adding: “We have a Conservative crime commissioner, a Conservative MP and every council locally is Conservative.”

“The county council…tends to be, fairly progressive, but the district council is…a dinosaur. It has always had a large Conservative majority…getting things through is quite difficult because they block vote, and that can’t be good for democracy.

“People are tired of the old political parties, and May 7 has to be about getting a better balance on EDDC, and [a greater number of] other councillors, especially independents, because they don’t have to toe a party line and can vote with their consciences.”

“To a Louse”: with particular reference to Councillor Moulding, Axminster Hospital and Knowle Relocation

“To a Louse” is, of course, the poem by Rabbie Burns which contains the immortal line:

“O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.”

Bear this saying in mind when reading the following report on a recent meeting about the reduction in services at Axminster Hospital sent in by a correspondent (very slightly edited of its more pungent comments) and compare it with public criticisms about Knowle relocation: a leading advocate of which is one Councillor Andrew Moulding:

At a well attended meeting to discuss progress in the fight to maintain in-patient beds at Axminster hospital, Cllr Andrew Moulding (wearing both his Town and County councillor hats) spoke to concerned residents about his representations to the Devon CC Health and Wellbeing OSC. He made clear his feelings on the matter to the OSC and stated that his only job as a Councillor was to convey the feelings, views, anger and frustration ohf Axminster people over the shameful way in which the CCG and NDHT had conducted themselves, with misleading figures, loaded and biased consultations and the heavy handed (and expensive) use of lawyers to force a decision through…

A member of the public replied that the whole situation was ” kafka-esque ” and that despite public passion and anger and a huge response ( against the establishment view ) to the Consultation document, it seems as if the publics wishes and views were simply ignored… How do we change this state of affairs…

Jeremy Walden then waded in to say that it wasn’t his place to tell the public how to change things they didn’t like but that the day to do so was soon upon us all…. oooh, cryptic!

However, the real eye opener was when AM then said that the CCG must keep an open mind on the whole issue and could not just proceed as it pleased disregarding public sentiment and that he did not believe them when they said that ” no decisions had yet been made ” – he chuckled good naturedly – again, my only job is to pass on my electorates views, which I will do with a passion… ( confetti rained down from the ceiling, trumpets blared etc ). The CCG and NDHT have not been forthcoming with their figures, the ones they have released are flawed, they have used Commercial Confidentiality as an excuse to withhold data and this does not allow an analytical, reasoned, impartial review to take place by those opposed to the plans. THIS IS QUITE WRONG AND MUST BE CHALLENGED!

Then, oh lord yes, he came up with this peach…

We (the working party – doctors, councillors, league of friends) believe that no decision on this critical matter should be taken until after the General election as governments may change, funding may change, policies may change and so to make the decision before then would be quite wrong as there are too many unknown factors at play. (cue: rousing applause).

Compare, of course, this statement with the Cabinet view at EDDC – of which AM is the deputy Leader – regarding the HQ relocation saga. When a motion proposing a moratorium on the process was proposed by the opposition independent group, the ruling majority were outraged! Why should we hold off on major decisions until after the election; that is not democratic and simply delays good decision making and as for using lawyers to suppress the truth, issuing flawed figures, hiding behind commercial confidentiality, making decisions before consultations complete…. I don’t recall AM making a similar stand then!”

Truly some of us badly need the ability to see ourselves as others see us.