Why are they party political?

PUBLISHED: 07:10 30 May 2014

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Councillor Eileen Wragg, called before the standards committee again for refusing to apologise for remarks she is alleged to have made about Councillor Humphreys, was condemned by Aureol H Mitchell as “demeaning herself and her party”, who linked this comment to the declining interest in voting (“A sorry affair...”, Opinion, May 15).

Conversely, in the Exmouth Journal last week, Philip Smith vigorously applauded Councillor Wragg over the same issue (“If you can’t take criticism, resign”, Opinion, May 22).

The question this raised for me was how did referring Councillor Wragg for a knuckle-
rapping help Exmouth or enhance the reputation of our political system?

There seems to be a pattern here, as all recent referrals to the standards committee, both in Exmouth and elsewhere within the district have been brought against opponents of the ruling Tory council.

Councillor Wragg and Councillor Humphreys, who I assume made the complaint, have been contesting the same county council seat for years, so maybe this, and possibly other referrals, are actually rather expensive cases of local party tribalism.

With investigations costing us council tax payers around £1,000 it seems to me that in Exmouth, where the council has no more power than that of the smallest parish, it is as useful as medieval scholars arguing about the number of angels one could fit on a pinhead.

So where is local politics going wrong? It now looks like just the plan to move East Devon District Council to SkyPark will cost us around three quarters of a million pounds.

A move from Sidmouth may well be financially sensible, but I cannot understand why the district council wants to site itself as far from the main centres of population in its area as it can.

Doesn’t it enjoy engaging with its electorate? Why, according to an EDDC press release, is the district council leader, Paul Diviani “relaxed about the additional work” required to complete the local plan, recently rejected by the planning inspector.

In all the businesses I have been involved in it would be embarrassing, and possibly a sacking offence, to fail to deliver on time in the first place. What do we pay a chief executive for if we can’t even produce a quality local plan on time?

And why does EDDC frequently seem to make decisions affecting Exmouth without even consulting the Tory-dominated town council?

Lots of potentially naughty angels here, but strangely no referrals to any medieval scholars.

Let’s free our excellent local councillors, who devote many, many hours of their time to working on our behalf, from the petty tribalism of political affiliation.

Let’s make it mandatory that all parish councillors are unaligned independents who are able to wholly represent the voters in their wards, without having one eye constantly on tribal niceties.

We could save buckets of money by divesting ourselves of EDDC and DCC and going to a unitary system, introducing a proportional voting system allowing the use of modern technology to make sure that voting is as easy as possible and that everyone’s vote counts.

With the advent of multiple parties and grassroots movements on social media, such as 38 Degrees, the political landscape has changed. We now urgently need the political system to change with it.

Mike Hinds

Cranford Avenue

Exmouth

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