During Country Squire Magazine’s investigations into malfeasance at Torbay Council, the Squires have encountered shocking evidence which makes even one’s most negative imaginings about councillors and local government seem saintly compared to the tawdry reality.
At times we have been left asking the question, who on earth would want to be a local councillor? It seems that across the UK there are too many pigs at the trough, amateurs abound, and there is far too little scrutiny, while local journalists too often seem part and parcel of the problem (often attending the same interest groups as the councillors themselves).
There have been signs of selfless service. The evidence gleaned so far points to some light amidst the darkness in Torbay. There are some good councillors, some good planners and other decent officials do reside in the Torbay area. The MPs are pass-the-ball, pull-up-the-drawbridge types – again, suggesting there is something wholly wrong with the councillor-MP government model.
It’s as if political apathy at a local level allows the influx of rotten or incompetent councillors, alongside the decent ones, and that MPs can tut and aah about local malfeasance but in reality they are more bothered about governing the country than worrying about these amateur local matters.
With reluctance, today Country Squire Magazine publishes yet more scandalous goings-on from the Torbay councillor community.
On Sunday 25th March, Torquay seafront and a few other roads needed to be closed so The Riviera Classic Cycle Race could take place (top marks to Torbay by the way for hosting such an attractive and impressive event). Although the seafront is regularly closed to all traffic including buses when the waves break over the road, some residents considered that this event would cause less disruption by being held going round and round the Velodrome track at Paignton and voiced their thoughts under the official announcement of the closure on the official Torbay Council Facebook page.
So far, so good. Democracy in action. Local residents should be heard.
But then one councillor, the youngest member of Torbay Council, decided to join in by posting:
“If this is all your attitude to a fun competitive bike race then no wonder Torbay is boring and full of pensioners. If you don’t like it move somewhere else. #typicaltroll #quitcomplaining #dosomethingaboutit.”
The Gold star marks where the councillor in question puts his foot in it, repeatedly:
The exchange continued with the councillor in question only digging himself in deeper and deeper.
Although this exchange was taken down two days later, residents were so appalled with the councillor’s rudeness and ageism that they lodged a formal complaint. They are due a response this week (although Torbay Council have the right to take further time if the complainants are notified.)
Country Squire Magazine shall let you have details of the Council’s decision when we hear of it.
Ironically, the Conservative Councillor involved represents the electorate of a ward which includes the home of a 74 year old pensioner who also happens to be Torbay’s elected mayor, Gordon Oliver.
We’ve not mentioned the young councillor’s name. Why? He’s not one of the really bad eggs at the council. It’s not as if he’s taking council money to run his businesses or temporarily relinquishing directorships while planning permissions pass through committees on which he votes. He has publicly expressed his doubts about carrying on as a councillor in the past, stating, “I got involved with the council when I was 25 because I am young and I am local and I wanted to make a difference to where I live. But some of the politics have got me seriously thinking about whether to stand again.”
It is our view that this fellow does not deserve his name being linked with this appalling Facebook conversation for the rest of his life – that’s the kind of ploy those on the Far Left use to blacken opponents’ names and, frankly, it’s cowardly. He may have been on Facebook after one or two too many shandies after a game of rugby. He can maintain his honour yet – by publicly apologising, or agreeing to relinquish his role as a councillor.
This vignette is symptomatic of just another bad council. From our readers’ emails, we are seeing a failure on the part of local councils, and local government in general, across the UK. Councillors with hidden motives, incompetent officials and corruption across the board.
On the other hand, the councillor has a point, just that he gets it across disgracefully.
#dosomethingaboutit is a valuable response and shows that there is local motivation which can be harnessed. There are too many armchair observers. Too many NIMBYs. (In our case exposing the council and the way it is allowing the Great British Countryside to be tarmacked is #doingsomethingaboutit albeit from the comfort of a rather splendid set of Chesterfields).
Time for a rethink on how local democracy operates?
Our Torbay exposé continues.