Thursday, 28 June 2018

Leigh Town Council - The farce continues

I was not a supporter of the formation of Leigh Town Council and nothing that has happened in subsequent years has changed my view. It was formed at a time when our long campaign to escape the clutches of Essex County Council and to return Southend to the status of a unitary authority was reaching fruition.

So at a time when we were cutting the levels of local government reducing operating costs and increasing accountability Leigh Town Council was formed to undermine that progress. I accept that since Southend Council agreed that LTC should take over the running of Leigh Community Centre they appear to have done so effectively however they represent a very expensive basis for a community centre operating committee.

One of their supposed strengths was the absence of party political affiliations. The result of this is that the process has not had the support of the party machines which, like or not, does help improve communication with the public, and has meant that most voters have absolutely no idea what their potential candidates stand for or wish to prioritise. This has resulted in poor voter turnout (even by local government standards) and often a chronic lack of candidates. In addition we have the farce of Lib Dem SBC councillor Carole Mulroney purporting to serve on LTC as an "independent".

My scepticism was fuelled by a recent edition of the Leigh Times which reported that following 2 recent councillor vacancies and a complete absence of any call for by elections 2 new councillors had been co-opted albeit by a meeting where only 5 of the 14 remaining councillors attended! So much for democracy.

In addition the LTC clerk was quoted as suggesting that an attendance of 77 residents at the Council's Annual Meeting was credible and reflected the interest in the affairs of the Town Council. Far be it for me to add a touch of realism but this pathetic attendance linked with the reluctance of electors to call for by elections to select the councillors to represent them or to vote unless in the polling station already for another more significant vote, in fact demonstrates that the majority of the community are either opposed to the cost and insignificance of LTC or are simply apathetic - not particularly caring one way or the other.

The time has come for the electorate to be given the opportunity to vote on the future of LTC but this time there should be a threshold of at least 50% of those voting and 40% of the total electorate before this costs group is allowed to continue.

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