‘Setting up warm spaces as PM suns himself…’

“So as is so often the case in the last 12 years, it is left to us, the people, to try and help ourselves. At East Devon District Council we are doing all we can to help the extraordinary volunteers who work to share food through food banks or other sharing means. A beneficial side effect is that this also helps stop good food going to waste.”

We are also trying to find more funds to help the Citizens Advice Bureau and – and I can’t believe I am writing this – our officers have been working all summer seeing how we can collaborate with other agencies to provide “Warm Spaces” for those who simply cannot afford to turn on the heating.

What is Simon Jupp doing? – Owl

Paul Arnott, Leader EDDC www.midweekherald.co.uk 

September remains my favourite month, full of promise and fresh starts. The summer breeze still blows, blackberries are ready, and the TV schedules pop with new programmes as the days grow shorter.

This September, however, many of us are fearful of what is to come, especially with soaring energy costs. In our home we usually make it to mid-October before I catch my wife trying to reset the heating control panel in the boiler cupboard to “ON”. Perhaps that may buy us all some time, but not much.

In this universally predicated situation, what is most needed is clarity, which is now about three months overdue. Instead we have a disgraced prime minister, who should have long ago left the role, and a Hobson’s Choice between a pair of nakedly ambitious competitors to succeed him.

Our next national leader – a role with inordinate power exerted through the little understood Cabinet Office – will be chosen by at most two hundred thousand members of the Conservative party. That is to say, about one three-hundredth of the country.

To bring the point home, in our lovely East Devon, where roughly 180,000 people live, only 600 of us would have a vote on that fraction. I got more votes than that in 2019 for Colyton Parish Council.

This shames our country, with the increasingly empty boasts from the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg that ours is the Mother of Parliaments. Any honourable new Prime Minister elected with this feeble mandate would immediately seek validation in a general election. For some reason, Liz Truss doesn’t seem to fancy her chances.

So as is so often the case in the last 12 years, it is left to us, the people, to try and help ourselves. At East Devon District Council we are doing all we can to help the extraordinary volunteers who work to share food through food banks or other sharing means. A beneficial side effect is that this also helps stop good food going to waste.

We are also trying to find more funds to help the Citizens Advice Bureau and – and I can’t believe I am writing this – our officers have been working all summer seeing how we can collaborate with other agencies to provide “Warm Spaces” for those who simply cannot afford to turn on the heating. In 2022! There is a whole generation now who do not remember the news stories about death by hyperthermia. That’s on its way back if we do not act.

This is why – and sorry if I sound unusually cross – the site of the pink and shirtless Boris Johnson holidaying around the Med, using his contact books to set up book deals and public speaking engagements likely to gross him at least £5 million in the next year is so sickening. Just look at him; he hasn’t a care in the world. I do hope the penny has dropped. That’s because he never has cared for anything but his own progress.

During Covid we are proud that as a district council we were a key agency. While making democratic choices we distributed everything from business rate relief to emergency business funding, energy rebate payments through our council tax system, to discretionary payments for those in extreme hardship.

All we have ever asked of Simon Jupp and Neil Parish (until he resigned) was to signal to government that we needed more than a week’s notice before putting these massive operations into action. We are a mere district council and only about 7% of your council tax bill comes to us. It’s tough.

But yet again it’s all going to be kick, b****ck and scramble. We’ll cope, at the price of stressed council employees switching roles and putting in extra hours. But for heaven’s sake – please – can we not inflict these slapdash Tories on us again? They are neither the natural party of government or of the economy.

 

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