New faces, familiar faces, fresh ideas

It’s all over the local press and we hear it from residents first hand every time an existing councillor crosses the aisle to join us ahead of the May election:

Isn’t R4U just a new Tory* group made up of the same faces with the same old ideas?”

(* Insert Tory, Lib-Dem, or Labour as applicable!)

In other words, when you cross the floor to join another party, do you leave old ideas behind?

These concerns are understandable, but we can assure you that when existing councillors join us their rejection of national party politics at a local level is profound and more than skin deep.

A broad political spectrum

We’ve had a number of prospective candidates join us from other parties, including current Uttlesford district and town councillors. All think that the gradual politicisation of local politics by national parties over the last 20 years hasn’t helped local people. R4U agree.

Within councillors at UDC there is a spectrum. There are those that will follow party orders at all costs; those that will only listen to their constituents/do what they believe is right, even if it is against ‘orders’ – and everything in between. We attract those that want to work for constituents.

Local residents not national politics

The current local Conservative administration has been disastrous for democracy. A number of councillors feel less able to represent their constituents than before because they are constantly told how they should vote at council meetings.

We heard this loud and clear during the Local Plan fiasco. A good number disagreed with the Plan but were told if they didn’t support it they would be deselected at the upcoming election. This political interfering was too much for some. When they didn’t toe the line some councillors actually were suspended, deselected or walked out on the Tories. Others became so disillusioned with being told what to do that they stopped attending some council meetings. The result of this level of undue political pressure is a poor outcome for any council or the public they represent.

Nationally when MPs switch parties their old masters discredit them and characterise them as no good. We even see that happening in Uttlesford with the local party grandees firing up their usual letter writers. But nothing could be further from the truth. Those that cross the aisle are the boldest – they have the courage of their convictions to stand up and be counted when they know something is wrong. And those that throw rocks at them just come across as petty and churlish.

Experience and new blood

We want and need the right balance of new fresh faces and those who understand the inner operations of UDC itself. We are happy to accept quality councillors with good experience and the right principles from most parties.

However they have to agree with our aims and support the common sense principles that have underpinned our group and manifesto. Namely – councillors work for residents and no one else, and residents have the right to decide what happens.

We’ve also been very careful to select a mix of people from different socio-economic, life and political backgrounds. As a residents’ party we need to understand as many different people as possible; so when we launched the party in October we did so with prospective candidates from each national political party along with a locally active mum of young children.

Since then we’ve worked hard to recruit women, business leaders and people from all non-political backgrounds. That allows us to build a team of new councillors that represent as many opinions as possible. It’s call consensus politics and hasn’t been happening around here for some time.

R4U is designed for change

None of our selections were by chance.

We are seeking to encourage a change for all residents and so need to design a better council. To be successful we need a small number of experienced councillors from all parties and lots residents who are prepared to stand up for their communities.

That mix of steady-hand and new ideas has built a strong and deliverable manifesto. It is focused on the big issues we face, and on what fellow residents and local businesses have directly told us. We’ve received more than 600 ideas and even put it out to public consultation. When did anyone ever hear of a national party putting a local manifesto out for public comment?

Not politics as usual

The dozen or so people on our management team and the majority of our prospective candidates never started out to get into local politics – but we are right there now because it is the only way to affect real change.

We love where we live and so combined we’ve spend tens-of-thousands of hours of our own volunteer time over the last 3 years because we are sick and tired of how local politics is failing all of us in Uttlesford. And those that have joined our growing candidate team, including sitting councillors, agree. None of us are content with the same old self-serving status quo. We’ve worked too hard for the right reasons.

We’d like your vote in May. A vote for Residents is a vote for yourself and a vote for a new Uttlesford fuelled by fresh ideas.

3 thoughts on “New faces, familiar faces, fresh ideas

  1. Geoff Powers

    Assuming that R4U is able to form (part of) a controlling group within the council I think that one of the greatest challenges will be to effect a change of culture among the officer ‘corps’.

    There will undoubtedly be officers (I could name names!) who will from time to time be obstructionist and tell you: “You can’t do that!” It will be important to knock any such tendency hard on the head as soon as it appears. I feel certain that over a short period, say 6-12 months, it will become necessary to replace certain individuals in order to dispel the present inertia and ensure the effective working of the council. A gust of fresh air will be generally welcomed!

    Reply
    • Keith Mackman

      While I’m not going to engage directly with your point, I agree that the relationship between officers and members has to be clearly understood, something that the current administration have allowed to blur.

      Members are elected by residents to make policy. Officers are employed by the council to implement those policies and any attempt to dilute that relationship needs to be addressed promptly.

      Reply
  2. Andrew Webb

    I’ll admit I too have mixed feelings about this issue. On the one hand, I really really want R4U to be a force for good and for change, I think Dan and everyone has accomplished a great deal in getting this far.
    On the other hand I personally feel about Tories the way Captain Kirk feels about Klingons! And we’ve seen nationally what happens when Conservatives leave to form/join another party.
    I think it is critical to address this issue as you’ve done above, you need to prove that you are on our community’s side. I really want you to succeed, but I do think it important to continue the idea of letting people from a wide range of backgrounds and political views join and/or contribute R4U. At the end of the day the electorate will judge you by your deeds not your word.
    Locally, nationally and even internationally this is the most exciting time in British politics and Government since… well the Civil war, From Scotland to Greece we’ve seen what happens when people stand up and engage with politics, they feel empowered and have a say over their destiny. Remember where the word comes from.. Politics, from Greek: politikos, meaning “of, for, or relating to citizens”, if that is your watch word, you’ll have my vote.

    Reply

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