This blog is a political blog from a left-of-centre perspective. This is not specifically a party political blog, but does have a Lib Dem orientation. Constructive enagement with radical liberals, social democrats / democratic socialists and greens is particularly welcomed.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Letter to Herald Express 070306

Several months ago I expressed concern that our then newly elected executive Mayor seemed to have very few specific policies or long term strategic view or 'vision' for the bay. Recent events seem to confirm the lack of a coherent policy programme. It seems policy 'ideas' are trialled via the columns of this newspaper rather than being adequately debated with and engaging democratically elected councillors of all parties and none.

Typical of this 'kite flying' was the alarmist media announcement of the need for 10% cuts in spending across all council departments, thereby resulting in undue worry for some of our most vulnerable people, their carers and service providers. More latterly the Mayor has floated loosely articulated plans regarding a 'super casino, the future of Oldway Mansion and the Pavilions and now car parking charges along Paignton seafront. Nick Bye skilfully avoids explicitly supporting these ideas in case they are unpopular so they can be later quietly shelved. What we're getting is policy by opinion poll with the Herald Express being the conduit for an extended de-facto mayoral 'focus group'. As I said before, where are the policies ? Where is the leadership ? How is Mayor Bye justifying his near £60,000 salary ?

Mr Bye feigns surprise at the state of the council finances despite having been a senior councillor of several years standing and having experienced budgets from both main parties represented on the council. It's time to stop the 'spinning' and 'kite flying' Nick and time to reveal your medium term policy priorities and direction for the years ahead. Crucially, make the executive decisions that the job requires of YOU and be judged accordingly.

With power being concentrated in the hands of one man and one party [the Conservatives] accountability is key if the new model of local government is to work. Readers therefore may like to know that the opportunity exists for the public to question the Mayor at both Cabinet and full council meetings. There is no need to wait for the next Herald Express sponsored event !

Barrie Wood


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