I think we need to be clear that the current local government crisis is not unique to West Berks but is a challenge facing authorities across the entire country. This was always the writing on the wall before the electorate made its choice – and the majority in our area chose that Tory path and should be examining their consciences at a national as well as at a local level. What we are seeing played out now is simply the end game of a policy that the Conservative party made abundantly clear right from the beginning.
What we face in West Berks is compounded by the perception we have of our council. Being perceived as a body of incompetent self-servers making knee jerk decisions, often behind closed doors, who habitually promote a lack of transparency has not done any of them any favours now the chickens have come home to roost. That incompetence isn’t new. Those behaviours did not suddenly manifest themselves in 2016 but many councillors were returned with the electorate’s mandate all the same.
What we need is for the Newbury Weekly News to serve its community by conducting and publishing a simple interview with each elected councillor answering two simple questions. 1) What cuts do you support? 2) What cuts are you against? No dissembling. No Benyon-speak. Just a simple ‘I support cuts in funding the disabled / the elderly / libraries / the arts. I am opposed to…(the same).
That way colours are nailed to masts. If your councillor (or mine) supports kicking the disabled, isolating the elderly, closing your library or hammering the Arts at least you will know and be able to act accordingly.
Will this happen? I fear not. Some dedicated councillors would no doubt embrace the opportunity. Most would not as very few of the people we elected would be prepared to stand up and be counted whilst speaking in plain English to their constituents.