OBSERVER: Important perceptions on the way the council is run

PERCEPTION is a wonderful thing – it can apply to both those who think a job is being done well and those who think it is being done badly.

Hence we have the situation last week of reading that a majority of people perceive the Market Place is a mess; on the other hand those in authority say their hands are tied, which gives the perception they couldn’t care less, otherwise they would do something about it.

If you were to do a quick survey of what ratepayers thought of the council you would get varying views probably, but very few I imagine would agree with the leader of the council who claims “We’re a well run council.”

Not in the eyes of those who have views about the Market Place, charging fees for disabled parking, selling off the Assembly Rooms, a dismal celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee (not forgetting the fountain fiasco), and general comments about how dismal the town seems these days.

Add in the criticism about councillors’ allowances going up 85 per cent - it doesn’t matter that it’s over so many years, it’s still a big hike – and the fact that ex-Coun Brian Rush was absolutely scathing about the way the council is run and is it any wonder that the perception of the council is that the majority in power all appear to have rose-coloured spectacles.

He makes a telling point about democracy.

When a council has a majority from the same party there is little chance for those in the minority to be heard, as was evidenced by comments from other councillors recently.

There is no place for party politics in local government, or there shouldn’t be.

A council dominated by one party, of whatever colour, is bad for the town. Couple that with a county council of the same hue and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Most damning of Coun Rush’s comments, in my view, was his last: thanking the large number of staff (at the council offices) who helped him, the highest praise for those “who do the most work, while earning the least amount of money.”

His perception is telling.