As I mentioned, I was an elected member of Nottinghamshire County Council. I thoroughly enjoyed the four years as Sutton Central representative and I like to think I did a good job.
What I noticed when I attended the meetings is that politics isn’t easy – not in the slightest.
At the first full council meeting, I noticed one important thing.
The majority party (blue) proposed something and the minority party (red) opposed it.
Nothing unusual in that, you may think and I’d agree with you until I looked into it a little further.
The ruling administration had changed in the election where I was voted in. That means the minority party as was had changed position and were now the majority party and vice-versa.
The previous majority party (red) had proposed the very same thing they were now opposing and the kicker is that the minority party (blue) had previously opposed it but were now in favour.
In effect, the majority (blue or red) proposed but the minority (red or blue) rejected the VERY SAME THINGS. Nothing changed apart from the corresponding colours of the party opposing and the party proposing.
The phrase, “I hate politics!” is one I voice on a regular basis. I hate twisty-turny, sly and devious politics, yet the opportunity to do some good for the constituents I represented was worth it.
One thing I noticed over the years is that our local council has, for the majority of the time, been one party – Labour (red).
I had a few dealings with members of that party and to say I’m unimpressed is an understatement of the highest order. With few exceptions, I can honestly say I dislike how they work and in this area specifically, I loathe what they stand for.
I once took it upon myself to work with one of the Labour party in County Hall. His constituency bordered mine and if we were to get this one thing done, we had to work together.
I felt it important to save one of the historically important buildings from demolition. The old Bath House was up for demolition and as the coal miners of the area had bought it with their own money, I felt it should not have been left to the council to destroy such an important part of our town’s history.
This is what it once looked like:
I got a few prominent people on board and one lady in particular worked tirelessly to help. She contacted people I never would have thought of and by the end of her working for this project, she had influential people on board and excited by the potential.
If we had been successful, the building would have been a museum.
This is what the building looked like when we were trying to save it.
I spoke to John Knight, one of Labour’s Councillors in County Hall.
“What do I have to do to save the building?” I asked in all sincerity.
“Just get a good, solid business plan sorted out,” he said and we shook hands.
We shook hands!
The business plan included one of the three people in the whole of the country who can give Museum Status to a project and she was completely on board. We had plans to make the swimming pool into an interactive experience, showing how coal miners worked, with a working display of a coal mine and on the other side, a similar display showing the conditions of the trenches in WWI.
Not only that, but we had been offered a large private collection of Lowry’s original artwork through the contacts of that first lady to come on board with the idea.
The evening of the proposal went bad from the start. The Labour party’s representatives shouted at the women speaking – yes, they actually shouted. They bullied and brow-beat everyone that stood up to speak.
After the meeting, it was clear that they not only didn’t want the museum in our town, but they had made the decision before we’d given our proposal.
The Bath House was demolished and in its place, they built residential buildings. I wonder if there were any ‘kick-backs’ from the developers?
It has been my experience that the local Labour Councillors are not interested in the area they represent. For instance, the MP (Member of Parliament) for the area was ‘parachuted in’ to a seat that was always considered safe. In other words, a favourite of the Prime Minister at that time decided she could have that position.
She was supposed to live in the area she represented, but rather than living in the house she claimed to use, she preferred to live in one of the local hotels instead. Those lies were uncovered when she was seen getting out of a taxi one morning. Gives a whole new meaning to ‘walk of shame’.
At one of the pre-election Hustings that she didn’t show her face at, (she made zero appearances at any of the Hustings) she was represented by a Labour member from another area, the question: Is the reason Gloria isn’t here this evening because of the fact that you know more about this area than she does? Had him at a loss for words.
John Knight for another example, lives miles from the area he represents. He’s allowed to represent the area because he has property there. Steve Carroll, a recently-resigned Councillor also lives outside of the area he represented. It was a running joke that the only time you saw him (and the rest) was coming up to election time, whereby he was spotted knocking on doors and delivering leaflets asking the party faithful to vote for him.
One more observation I’ve made over the years is that the local Labour Councillors are fond of granting planning permission for large housing developments. What they don’t take into consideration, however, are the residents, the impact on local infrastructure, the problems more housing will cause to the environment and road users and even schools and health needs which are already under massive strain.
What I’m saying is this: Any large housing developments should have schools and doctors’ surgeries planned in with the houses they propose - at the bare minimum.
The housing developments have proven to be a death knell for the Labour party in this area. Over the years, thousands of houses have been built on greenbelt land, to the detriment of Labour success in elections. Their faithful voters are being diluted as new people come to buy the homes. This area was once a staunch Labour stronghold, hence the almost guaranteed election success for Gloria ‘Disappear-o’ as she was dubbed by one newspaper.
The resounding commitment of, “I have to vote Labour, my dad always did.” Makes me shake my head at the sheer ignorance of politics.
Fortunately for Ashfield, the turkeys voted for Christmas all on their own and they are no longer the majority party at District – Independents are taking the reins and the difference they are making already is remarkable.
This blog is representative of my own views only.