When I joined the Save Elizabeth Hall group, I also became more aware of the workings of local government. I had heard rumours and remarks over the years, but it was brought home to me more, how our Exmouth concerns are at the mercy of East Devon County Council.

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Our local representatives in our town council have little real say in our affairs, and are often overruled by East Devon. This is especially in crucial decisions affecting the structure and beauty of our home town.

When and how was such a change ever carried out without an outcry by our citizens? Surely, it is only right that our choice of councillors should have the last word in such changes in their town? They are our representatives. What is the point of a local council if they have so little power?

I do know our council supported our plans to save and refurbish Elizabeth Hall in principle. That should have led to further, local investigation of our ideas and any adjustments made and agreed – not a delay and unsuitable refusal, overlooking all our support in East Devon!

What a snub that seems to our council! But it is one of many in the past and more to come in future.

I recently came across the following advice to governing bodies which is a perfect model for voters to consider, before voting for their leaders, whether local or government. It is also an aim and standard for elected councillors to follow when elected. How many begin with high aims of service, and lose it on the way? It is useful to save as a guide to keep on hand for the next elections:

‘Those who are called upon to serve in institutions understand that their function is not to dictate but to consult and consult, not only among themselves, but as much as possible with the people they represent. “Never” would they be led to suppose that they are the central ornaments, intrinsically superior to others in capacity or merit, and sole promoters of its principles. With extreme humility they approach their tasks and endeavour by their open-mindedness, their high sense of justice and duty, their candour, their modesty, their entire devotion to the welfare and interests of humanity, to win, not only the confidence and the genuine support and respect of those whom they serve, but also their esteem and real affection.’

Dorothy Bruce

Louisa Terrace

Exmouth

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