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Column 4th May 2022

What will our councillors achieve before the next elections?

OK, its election day tomorrow – not for all of us but (in our area) for Steventon and Hanney.

Please go and vote if you can, it’s important that we get the councillors we want.

The elections have made me think about councils and councillors.

I’ve lived in OX12 for about a decade and haven’t seen much evidence of councillors achieving anything significant.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the day to day operations of the Councils don’t deliver what they legally have to but just that our councillors don’t seem to make much difference.

It’s now three years since we elected our Parish/Town Councillors and District Councillors and a year since we elected our County Councillors.

We get another chance to vote for Parish/ Town Councillors and District Councillors next year.

I grew up watching Yes Minister on TV and have heard many comments which suggest that the civil service has much more influence on policy than our politicians would like us to believe.

After all, if we believe our Prime Minister, he isn’t responsible for what happens in 10 Downing Street.

So how can we hold councillors responsible for what their staff do?

The officers have worked hard to keep us safe during the pandemic.

They have been working from home and have been much more difficult to get hold of. Even now I often have difficulty in getting through to any council officers on the telephone and emails can be weeks before an answer is received.

I thought our Government had decided that life had returned to normal but for council officers around here that may not mean that they do what they did before the pandemic.

So for the last two years other than trying to maintain day-to-day services, councillors have not had the resources available to them for new projects.

The exception to this is anything which supported ‘keeping people safe’ in the pandemic (like the ‘temporary’ pedestrianisation of the west end of Wantage Market Place) or anything which didn’t require much staff time (like giving the Freedom of Wantage to an aircraft carrier).

Vale Councillors have spent the last three years trying to keep the Council solvent.

They have cancelled plans for a new leisure centre but haven’t even managed to produce a leisure strategy or (as mentioned in last week’s column) created a planning framework for Grove.

What will our councillors achieve before the next elections?


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