Where is the democracy?

IN the April 9 edition, the Journal highlighted the donation made to Exmouth Community College in order to encourage the young people in the town to become involved in Local Democracy Week. On an earlier page in the paper, there was another item that rep

IN the April 9 edition, the Journal highlighted the donation made to Exmouth Community College in order to encourage the young people in the town to become involved in Local Democracy Week. On an earlier page in the paper, there was another item that reported a proposal: to change the membership of the town council's committee structure to enable a stronger hold by the Tory party which holds the largest number of seats.This in particular is a decidedly important change in the direction of the council, because it will prevent the democratic debate that has always been available to every member, no matter which party they belong to.The immediate result, if this had been the position now, would be that Exmouth Town Council's precept for this year would have been about four per cent higher than it is because the Liberal Democrats wouldn't have been able to force the council, by its current membership of the finance committee, to reduce back to a zero increase and which the Tories are now trumpeting as their budget!It strikes me that the Tory party in East Devon is lacking in the knowledge of the democratic process. This is typified by the efforts by one of their members to engage the town council with the community but then ruins this by proposing to the council that the structure of the town council's committees is changed, so ensuring the political balance on those committees and to enable the Tory members to push through their business, a by-product being the removal of the democratic process from what is after all a Parish Council.As a councillor for eight years, representing Halsdon Ward, I am able to assure the public that at no time during my period as the chairman of finance was the business of that committee conducted along party lines. There was also, for a period of two years, a member of the Tory party who, sitting on council as an independent, served as the chairman of the planning committee. Those were the days when the Lib Dems held 20 of the 25 seats and worked with the whole council for the benefit of the town, unlike the situation as it will be soon. People have long memories however and, whenever the membership of East Devon or Exmouth Town Council is mentioned, many say that we should remember that they are there because we voted for them. I did not, and many that live here in Halsdon and in the town are saying that they didn't either, so who did?Clive Allen, in his letter published in the same edition of the Journal, hits the nail firmly on the head when writing about the unitary Devon and our MP. This undemocratic bunch of people are hurt by the realisation that they could well soon be thrown off the gravy train with little chance of ever again being a big fish in a little pond, but in the interim they could cause irrevocable damage to our town on the way.Anyone who remembers Upstairs Downstairs will know that in this TV series several episodes centred their plot around the efforts of Tory MPs to influence the democratic process in order to safeguard their Tory Party. They have certainly not changed their methods over the years. Ron Roberts.10 Littlemead Lane,Exmouth.


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