Thursday, February 08, 2007
Almost half of Bury aren't satisfied with the Labour Council. Are you?
In addition, and perhaps of particular note given the troubles with Metrolink and possible congestion charging at the moment, less people in Bury were satisfied with public transport information and with bus services than similar Authorities. How can Labour in Bury sit idly by and do very little about the looming chaos when so few people are satisfied with the buses they are being forced onto? And why are they still telling so few people about it, when even the Government are now saying their public information campaigns aren't working?
It worries me that things have been allowed to get to this level by Labour. What is interesting to note is that often, satisfaction with services is nowhere near as bad with satisfaction with the Council as a whole. It would be wrong to say that people are angry with the services provided - it's true for some of them, but not for all. And we should praise Labour for that. But, as the Local Government Association point out it is often more about drawing a link between the services provided and the people providing them.
Council officers do a great job of providing services, in often very trying circumstances. But so often they are let down by Councillors more interested in serving themselves or their parties than the public who elect them. So often the public are treated like children - kept in the dark, not consulted, and riddden rough-shod over like they don't matter. The Retreat in Prestwich - Why was it left derelict for so long? The Hilton Lane junction - Why have the Council been so dismissive? Heaton Park - Why is there so much clandestine negotiation and secrecy?
So often the needs of local people are put second to the desires of big political partie fund white elephant schemes like ID Cards, or fund the latest gimmick rather than put police officers on the local beat. Only last year the Liberal Democrats in Prestwich fought Labour to keep local schools open. Bury Labour wanted them closed, and the Conservatives dithered. Is it any wonder local people are dis-satisfied with the Council when its biggest political parties don't stand up for them?
We need local people in office, serving the people who sent them into office. These people need to be the public face of the Council, to provide the links between improving services and the institution that provides them. They need to be the Community leaders, working as the conduit between the people and the people's wishes. We need more decent, honourable Councillors, representatives of the people, serving Bury and not themselves or their party masters. Only then will people become satisfied with the Council. People know that difficult choices sometimes have to be made. But it is their lack of say in decisions, and the lack of respect they're shown by distant politicians that makes them unhappy - not always the decisions themselves.
Last year in St Mary's, Cllr Donal O'Hanlon, a local Liberal Democrat who has lived in Prestwich his whole life, was elected, defeating the Labour incumbent who lived right across Bury in Holcombe Brook! All of Bury's Lib Dem Councillors live in the area they represent. All of them are easily contactable, and all care passionately about their wards because they live there themselves! I think that this is the way forward. More locally responsive, committed Councillors will help to heal the obvious wounds that have arisen between Council and citizen.