The one party state of Swanage.

With UBI it’s universal basic income, although unconditional somehow works better as it gets away from all the pejorative language the tts have introduced and encouraged with regard to benefits. One comment raises the point that we already have a form of UBI with the state pension and perhaps we could start extending it to younger folk and see how it goes, except governments are doing the opposite so that poor people who die younger get even less. Still, what do you expect from tory twats, yet even I was a little shocked when I went to the annual Swanage parish council meeting last night.

I’d had an email from someone from a group called Saving Swanage about how there would be a public vote at the meeting with regard to policies relating to council owned land, that is land owned by the Swanage public. There is a place called California Quarry just to the south of Swanage town owned by a family firm called Suttle and seems like there might be gas under them thar hills.One member of the Suttle family is a town councillor and has been mayor a couple of times. There’s already been one exploratory drill and another pending.

Anyway, acces to the quarry is via a council owned road which is pretty narrow, at times very steep and access to it is along various residential roads of Swanage. There is very reasonably some concern about many aspects of the use of this road by industrial traffic. Over recent years the councillors of Swanage (who are pretty much all tory, even the independents) have discussed the drilling and perhaps only represented a narrow group of the people they’re supposed to represent and who happen to own the land and businesses that might profit from any dealings.

Anyway at the end of the meeting one Jason Haisleden quite bravely stood to make a number of proposals with regard to the council owned road, which is, therefore, owned by the denizens of dear old Swanage town. There was a fair amount of harrumphing, especially from an elderly gentleman sat right behind me. The tt councillors were sat serried along the front row with the mayor, the town clerk and a couple of other officials sat at a table at the front facing the audience. Jason presented 4 proposals, all sounded quite reasonable to my untutored ears and there were votes at the end of each. People raised the cards they’d been given on arrival, first the vote in support which were counted by the town clerk, he said a number which I didn’t think tallied and then counted those against. Like a North Korean meeting all the front row raised their cards and others were chivied by the mayor to raise theirs, good to see an impartial chair of proceedings. We lost the vote, but as I suggested it did seem like the voting for putin.

Anyway, Jason doggedly presented his second proposal and voting duly done, this time  I counted all those who voted against and it definitely didn’t tally with the clerk’s and the tts narrowly won by dodgy counting. To my shame I did not point this out. During Jason’s third proposal the mayor rattled his chair as if in his pram and said he’d had enough and that it should end, I think others pointed out that Jason had every right to carry on. Various others questioned why this was happening as it wasn’t on the agenda and there had been no forewarning. Jason calmly pointed out that this was their only opportunity to present any views other than those of what could be described as the rather unrepresentative councillors.

Meanwhile one Jack Daniels (sic) of this parish held his phone aloft to record proceedings, so there is some use for these mobile devices. This apparently upset one of the tt councillors who berated him afterwards for filming, how dare he try and bring some openness and transparency to proceedings.

Anyway, the persistent Jason presented his third proposal and this time success, we won by 1 vote. The final proposal really summed things up for me as it was about the company, suttle’s, who use the road and any other company who might use the road for commercial reasons be, quite reasonably, responsible for any damage their lorries do and it not fall to the humble citizens of Swanage to pick up the tab. All reasonable folk in the meeting voted for this and the vote was won quite comfortably despite the massed rank of the front row. Just think on a little about what these tts had voted for. I was somewhat perturbed and it was extremely clear to me that this small cabal of councillors were not at all representing their electorate. Some are of the opinion that local councils should not be party political and I now have some sympathy with this view. At the very least though and to encourage greater participation, there should be some sort of proportional representation to properly reflect all views and interests within the community. We have a one-party state in sleepy old Swanage.

local-government

PS the clerk said that these proposals are in no way binding and will be presented to the town council for discussion and……………..The people have spoken and their representatives will…………………………

Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.

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2 thoughts on “The one party state of Swanage.

  1. Your report is about the Annual Parish Assembly, not about one of the monthly Swanage Town Council Meetings. I had planned to go but the date was changed from that originally mooted and I was committed to be elsewhere for something which had been arranged partly to suit me. I don’t think any Swanage Town Councillors are bothered about being filmed, but warning should be given as members of the public might not want to be. It is disappointing that so few people were at the Annual Parish Assembly. I find it even more disappointing that generally less than half the electorate in the town bother to vote at local elections – some don’t bother to register to vote and that makes the proportion of non-participants even bigger.

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    1. Avril, my blog was about the annual parish assembly and I was, as I wrote, pretty shocked by proceedings. I’ve spoken with Jason since and he spoke of proceedings at last week’s monthly council meeting and I hope to be at tomorrow’s reconvened meeting. And you’re right to express disappointment about registration and voting, we need to energise the people!
      Duncan

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