Last year, Saffron Walden Town Council set up monthly surgeries in the interest of ‘openness’ so that local people could come and talk about issues that affect them. This is promising – I am all in favour of engagement and democracy, particularly the real kind of interaction where residents are actually listened to and their ideas and concerns can form part of a vibrant political process.
But then councillors complained last week that local people were not coming to talk to them; is this a surprise?
When locals do have their say on District matters they are ignored – for example you only have to look at so-called consultations on planning in which residents voiced their concerns only to have these disregarded by UDC as irrelevant. No wonder few residents bother to turn up for the Town Council! It seems, indeed – out of bitter experience – that ‘they expect no sensible answers’ as one councillor mused plaintively, and we end up in a situation where the Town Council has to deal with the knock-on effects of botched consultation by UDC.
But that is going to change: we aim not only to listen to residents, but to engage in a new and open way, co-creating policies and always remaining accountable to local people. So, let’s start the conversation: please write to me at my email address and tell me what you think needs doing in Uttlesford.
Look forward to hearing from you!