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You can click here to see what I said in 1999 about independent councils and councillors. I shall not repeat the details here, because my views haven't changed.
I want to add a bit, though, because the council environment has changed since 1999 and you have a right to know how those pressures have affected me and my attitudes. Here is one of the problems, both for you when deciding how to vote and for me as an independent candidate: you don't know what my approach to issues that you care about will be unless I tell you, whereas you will have a rough idea of where political parties stand.
That's why I am using the internet to tell you. I was the first West Devon candidate to do this. Probably very few of you will look at this stuff; but that's not the point. The point is that you are entitled to expect me to tell you enough to enable you to vote for me. This is the best way I can think of not only to talk to you now, but also to leave the information on the internet so that you can judge my performance as a councillor against what I said. If only all politicians would do that! We might be trusted rather better and see higher turnouts at elections.
Anyone still feeling deceived?
I take as much flak on the council from Conservative
councillors because I sit as an Independent member as I do from
the Liberal Democrats.
I believe that my voting record shows that I rarely vote on party lines. The fact that I must have had support from at least one LibDem member to become vice-chairman of the Policy & Resources Committee in 1998 and vice-chairman of Partnership Committee in 2002 suggests that I try hard to take a balanced view of most issues. I know that there have in recent years been as many Independent LibDems (ie paid-up party members) as there have been Independent Conservative councillors.
The truth is that I simply do not believe that party politics is good for local councils. West Devon has always been a "no overall control" council ... and I want it to stay that way. That is one reason why I am offering myself again for election: it gives you a choice.
My view is that it is better to tell the truth, mainly because that is the right thing to do.
Some of you will not agree with me. That's fine by me: you don't have to vote for me. I have tried, in the limited space available through election leaflets, to reveal the way I think about local issues. I am also using the medium of the Internet to expand on this for the benefit of any who are interested. I believe in accountability, which is why I put my election literature from 1999 on the Net so that you can judge my record against it.
I am not against political parties being represented on local councils. I just don't think they ought to control them. When West Devon Council was firmly Independent, it had a good mix of political parties, including Green, and appointed its committee chairmen on a merit and ability. As soon as it became party-dominated (by the LibDems), they appointed their own place-holders to be chairmen and vice-chairmen of all the Standing Committees. When, in 1999, it became balanced again, with 10 Conservatives, 8 LibDems and 12 Independents, the chairs fell largely to the Independents, partly as a backlash and partly because they had more of the experienced sitting councillors than other groups.
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