Sunday, September 24, 2023

Opinion: Where is the Truth in Local Politics?

I don’t like people taking me for a mug by thinking I’ll lie down and accept their lies without question. It indicates a contempt for my intelligence and, in a politician, contempt for decency and democracy.

I’ve just had yet another leaflet delivered on behalf of Alan Cox, Conservative leader of Amber Valley Borough Council and candidate in the Belper North Ward. In it he states that “If Labour take control of the Council then it is certain that Bullsmoor will feature in their plans. And then they will go for Bessalone Hill.”

What rot! The only indication there has ever been for any housing plans on Bessalone was the submission by the site owners, JC Balls, to suggest that housing on Bessalone could replace Bullsmoor on the Local Plan. A speculative idea that the Council, rightly, ignored as an unrealistic plan for Green Belt land.

So, in making this claim Cox can be seen as duplicitous because there is no evidence that Labour have ever suggested building homes on Bessalone. And in his previous leaflet he suggested Broadholme, Blackbrook and the Chevin could be next!

But are Labour blameless? It is true that it was Labour’s attempt at a Local Plan that had the whole town up in arms. It was Labour’s suggestion that homes be built on Bullsmoor and surrounding areas so, to some extent, they have only themselves to blame. Ben Bellamy states “Labour are committed to achieving a housing plan to ensure that any development is sustainable, will not include the Green Belt, protects Belper’s character and comes with badly needed infrastructure.” That seems like a promise and we need to decide whether we trust it.

Alan Cox and Ben Bellamy also disagree on the River Gardens Tea Rooms with Ben saying Labour will sell the disused Field Lane site (I wish I could sell my house to the Council for £1.6 million) to fund the new Tea Rooms. Alan Cox says the promise is worthless as the other Labour Councillors on Amber Valley Council all hate Belper and won’t deliver. More scaremongering (tosh) if you ask me – the Tories have had their chance, completely blown it and are now clutching at straws.

It all boils down to trust. I wouldn’t trust the Conservatives as far as I could throw them up King Street but do we trust the Labour Group to deliver on their local candidate’s promises?

What of the others?

UKIP have got what they wanted – an EU referendum – so, whatever the result in June their job is done and they are finished. They will no longer have any reason to peddle their poisonous racism. Goodbye.

I feel sorry for the Liberal Democrats – they are genuinely nice people – but have neither the resources or the support to make any sort of challenge locally. I have no idea what their local manifesto says as I’ve not had a leaflet through the door.

The Green Party are on the up and I count many of their members as personal friends but their leaflet seems to major on Sue MacFarlane’s electability by looking at previous election figures. I so much wish Sue well but am so, so disappointed by all the candidates in Belper North.

What I want to hear is principles, ideals, vision. I want to be inspired so I go into the polling station filled with enthusiasm and hope when all I see is bickering over the management of our council. Has politics been truly reduced to a management challenge? Are we really going to accept this Neo-liberal corporate control that is devoid of ideals and generosity. Are we going to let our society be stripped of all being and sold to the highest bidder?

I’ll vote, but I truly wish I had something worth voting for.

By David George

David George

Former Editor of Derby's CAMRA Magazine Community Affiliations: Belper Goes Green Founder, Transition Belper

5 thoughts on “Opinion: Where is the Truth in Local Politics?

  • Ben Bellamy

    In general, I think, a fair analysis. We are lucky in Belper in that we generally have a community that cares deeply for the town – illustrated to a large degree by the Neighbourhood plan which I (and I know Labour candidate in Central, Maurice Neville) both fully support. People who are unaware of the plan should get involved – it will shape the future of our town.

    I perhaps should have talked about principles – well one of my main ones is to do things collaboratively. I don’t have enough arrogance to be able to say I have all the answers – I know I don’t. I don’t think being a councillor would be easy- I believe that it offers a chance to represent the community, and representation requires extensive consultation. If I am elected then expect lots of local community meetings to discuss the issues at hand. Councillors should support their communities, but the community also has a part to play in supporting it’s councillors.

    As for our promises – they are made sincerely, with full agreement and support of the Labour group. In terms of the one that requires capital expenditure, the tearooms, the funding solution is spelt out. I do ask for trust on this- if a council can’t build a tea rooms, especially with the leadership and support of the group that are working to this goal, then we all may as well pack up and go home.

  • Joanna Kirk

    The Tories want to bring us corporate colonialism in the form of fracking and want the assets of the public sector (paid for by the people of this country since the foundation of the welfare state) to be fleeced for private gain. I know you won’t vote for such policies.
    Good luck with choosing!

  • Keyboard warrior David George why oh why didn’t you stand as a candidate ??????

  • This is a very percipient and helpful summary of the present political scene in Belper. BTW, I’m rather embarrassed to say that I’ve only just discovered this excellent, energetic website, and will try to support it as much as possible.

  • Clare Washbrook

    There’s no need to feel embarrassed Mr. Stainforth; we only launched in September.

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