Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Letting the public speak

AS a critic of local government, people have often said to me “instead of moaning about it, why don’t you put up for council yourself”?

That would be a bit difficult in East Devon as I don’t live in the area - but I did try it once in my home town, serving for one four-year period and rising to the dizzy heights of mayor for one year.  In fact, I was the town’s youngest mayor at 34, a rather dubious record I still hold. 

It was much easier being a councillor in those days. There was very little politics around and there was much less consultation with - and scrutiny by - the public. If you did a poor job, you got voted out at the next election.

Today, the electorate have a much greater say, particularly during public sessions at council meetings where they have their own forum.

We like these sessions because they often produce better stories than the council debates.
But they often add greatly to how long a council meeting takes. The new town mayor in Axminster, Douglas Hull, has put his foot down and is allowing a member of the public to speak only on one subject, encouraging them to attend his weekly surgery and not allowing problems to fester for three weeks. 

Brave man!    

GLOWING tributes have been made this week from all quarters of Ottery St Mary following the death of John Gaffney, a true community champion.

As editor of the greatly admired Ottery Gazette community magazine, John provided a much needed service, giving superb support to the town’s many community groups.

When Pulman’s View launched into Ottery, we soon became aware that the Ottery Gazette was the bible as far as the town was concerned and we would never emulate its success.

The economics of running newspapers in this day and age make it impossible to compete with parish publications like the Gazette.

Hopefully, it will continue to fill that void.

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