Buttercross: Keeping decisions out of politics

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Politics. Quite a subject. Like it or not, we are constantly wooed by people of all sorts of political persuasions.

Some of us decide it is all too boring or complicated to be involved with and, in effect, switch off. That seems to have been more and more the case in recent months, in spite of the fact we have a general election little more than seven months away.

However, we now have the emergence of a further, and serious, political party which appears to have caught the imagination of some and that may spice things up a bit more this time around.

Furthermore, there appears to be a party leader who, if he does not know the answer to a question, says so. Unusual in today’s climate.

Any new government needs to set out on its term of office with some strength to its elbow, to get its stated policies accepted without too much dilly dallying.

Here in Swaffham our old urban district council (UDC), and later our town council, has had political groups regularly facing one another across the chamber. Red against Blue generally, with some meetings stopping only just short of fisticuffs.

Several councillors over the years, and in the time of the UDC, were expelled from meetings for some considerable time for quite unacceptable behaviour.

It is known many townspeople now do not approve of politics playing a part in decisions taken by our town council. No-one has a monopoly on good ideas and it is by discussion, and consensus, that the right decisions are generally arrived at.

But this, unfortunately, has to be overlooked sometimes when elected members are ordered to vote along their “party line”.

It was stated in the press recently that our district council votes very much in this way, where 47 councillors out of 54 are of one political persuasion.

One can only feel sorry for the other seven councillors who presumably have very little chance of influencing decisions, despite being elected to represent the majority of voters in their respective wards.

Effective sub-committees have their part to play and, once decisions are taken in these smaller committees recommendations are brought before the full council for ratification.

Consequently, some full council meetings are very short, with little further discussion and debate.

Finally, and on a totally different subject, how sad it was recently to hear of John Bell’s death.

John was a Swaffham man and boy through and through and, to be taken from us at the ridiculously early age of 53, has been very hard to take for many.

Many years ago, our two sons attended ATC meetings where John was a very smart and efficient Warrant Officer.

In later years, and despite being in poor health, he always asked after our boys when he met my wife or myself in the street. He will be sorely missed by many.