Wiggia describes the frustrations of getting even the simplest things done, in what is supposed to be a democracy:
In line with the rubbish we are all being harangued with from the political parties pre-election, I have been doing a bit of haranguing myself with the local and now it seems the City Council.
I am not alone in this but in the beginning, before the local elections two years ago, I was a lone voice either because of voter apathy, something in a vocal sense that is more prevalent here than in countries the other side of the channel or I had been the only one to spot an announcement in the Lib Dem election leaflet that was not quite right - this is amazingly. at the moment, Lib Dem country.
As with all local election leaflets there is normally a picture of the incumbent councillor standing and pointing at various achievements he has made for the area, usually a covered bus shelter, a resurfaced woodland walk for all and similar.
But what caught my eye was the fact that a traffic calming measure was to be put in place on our road.
Our road has become a bit of a rat run during rush hour and holiday traffic times. It is nearly a mile long and the current traffic calming (put in by people with a total lack of brain) does not work; and as it is never policed, an increasing minority totally ignores it.
The road that was through what was originally a village is very narrow in parts, with some houses on the road and no pavements one side for stretches. This causes several problems whether motoring or on foot.
Back to the leaflet: what was strange about this welcome announcement was the fact that nobody knew anything about what was planned and there had been no consultation at all with the residents, plus the leaflet gave no details as to what the traffic calming would consist of.
As I am at a time in life when you have the time and inclination to want to know more about such things I emailed the local councillor who returned the favour, saying perhaps it would be better if we spoke face to face, I agreed and a pleasant lady came round and described the state of play She would not be standing here as she had moved to another ward - that word became more relevant as the story unfolded.
What she explained was that they had indeed had council meetings and that average speed cameras were the preferred solution. All well and good, I said, as long as they are sited correctly, for reasons I explained. This point was not something that had been discussed in detail but I was assured it would be. It was also revealed where the money had come for this project in these austere times: not from the council but a store project up the road that had offered money for this and another project in what can only be described as a sweetener for planning. My, and I thought only Italian councils asked for money in these situations!
Still, the money was in the bank, or rather the council’s coffers, and sort of ring-fenced for this project, we were told. I say we, as by this time some interest had stirred in the road and it was full throttle into consultations and the arrival of these cameras in that September. Things were not obviously going to plan as nothing was heard in any shape or form after that meeting and by September the cameras were a distant figment of the imagination.
Undeterred I got back in the swing of things and fired off emails to my local councillor, the newly elected one, whose first reply was that she knew little or nothing about the matter. Another email reminding her it was a highlight of the leaflet that got her elected changed the tone somewhat and waffle followed.
I changed tack and went for the chief councillor or whatever they call themselves. I was by then at peak peeve and his anodyne reply got short thrift: I accused him and his party of lying to the electorate as what was said in the party leaflet was not an aspiration a la manifesto but a done deal. I copied in the local MP.
My email must have touched a nerve, as it was relayed to all and sundry at all levels and departments and received replies from all, showing how disjointed local government is, as all had different versions as to why nothing had happened, but I was assured it would! I kept all the emails for future reference and it was as well I did, as despite prodding with a sharp stick still nothing happened or was discussed.
Certain rumours emerged that did nothing to dispel that sinking feeling that all my efforts were in vain. I gave up as other events more important to me came and went; until a couple of months ago, when a manager on the highways division of the council who lives a few doors away said it was all going to happen in a few months. “False dawn, false dawn!” should have been the cry, as still not peep was heard.
Then the city council elections were held and the, you guessed it, LibDems sent out another detailed leaflet that had the usual “We did this and we have got the traffic calming going in soon” story again. Again this was worded as a done deal. At last the cry went up, and again hopes were dashed as others questioned what was going on and the same councillor who had been championing his cause pre-election backpedaled, blaming everyone else for the delay and the fact that various people in City Hall were not in favour of the scheme and the PCC was to have a meeting with the town council about it as the traffic people were in favour of putting new versions of the failed system back.
I queried both the lie that the Lib Dems had again printed and what on earth the PCC was to do with the scheme and what would he know about it anyway, having been in the job five minutes and not being vaguely local (he comes originally from Canada)! He sits on a fat salary and has been totally invisible since day one in the job. Of course in true political fashion none of my points were answered and more BS was proffered up. I have, and it’s unusual for me, lost interest to a degree.
All this has shown is that all the multi layers we have for government at all levels are way over the top as regards satisfying needs. Most could be swept away and yet they are added to with PCCs and Mayors, all with attendant offices paid for by the taxpayer. The vast majority really couldn’t run a whelk stall and like the NHS the waste has to be seen to be believed.
My only hope is the council meeting (date yet to be announced) is one I can attend to give vent to my anger and distaste for all of them who waste and lie and thieve from the public purse. If the Lib Dems were a private company you could sue for the lies they printed yet somehow it is all OK. I have seen several similar cases like this with different councils where I have lived over the years but never got directly involved.
“Angry of Tunbridge Wells” doesn’t even start to cover it.