HTML version of my Council Election leaflet for 1st May 2003
Click here for: page 2 - "Why Independent". Local Government Reorganisation Again? Candidate lists Site Map


Councillor Roger Mathew

Potted Biography

I was born in Tavistock 57 years ago and am a third generation resident. I was educated in Tavistock and went to get a degree in biochemistry at Birmingham University. Having taught science, spent a year in educational administration in Canada and served a six-year commission in the Royal Air Force, I returned to Tavistock permanently in 1982. I now work from home, mostly as a freelance computer consultant, but spend most of my time on my duties as a Councillor. I was elected to the Town Council in 1987 and to West Devon Borough Council in 1991. I have chaired both of the Town Councilís standing committees and was Mayor of Tavistock in 1999-2000. I have been vice-chairman of West Devonís Policy & Resources Committee and the County/West Devon Partnership Committee. For the last four years I have been chairman of West Devonís Planning Committee. I also sit on the Board of West Devon Homes, which delivers West Devonís housing service and I am a Governor of St Rumonís School.

Why me?

This election is different from the ones I have entered before. This time, there is no big local issue that I want to beat the drum about on your behalf. This time, there is just me and my record as a Councillor since 1987. As you know, Iím not one to keep my head down if I think things arenít right. Thatís why I shall never top any poll in a multi-seat ward - Iím too controversial - but you all know that I donít keep quiet, I donít let go and I donít give up.

I like to think that Iím an honest and open politician that you can trust to say what he thinks, rather than toeing a party line; and stick to his guns once he has declared his position. You can check this out on my website: my my 1999 election address and my 1995 one are a click away for anyone to see and judge me against. If you don't have a computer at home, try the library's.

For the last four years, I have been Chairman of West Devonís Planning Committee. This guarantees that I can never please everyone, but I have tried hard to see that planning decisions are made fairly, consistently and clearly. Whilst there is no guarantee that a new Council would re-appoint me, I want to have a chance to continue this work. I believe I have made a difference and there is more to be done. I can only do this if you re-elect me.

If you want me to continue this work, vote MATHEW
for West Devon Borough Council
on 1st May.

Published as an Internet document by R W Mathew, Willowby, Down Road, Tavistock, Devon

Click here to return to top of page 1.

Why Independent?

I have been under some pressure to stand on a political party ticket this time. The Liberal Democrats want me to stand as a Conservative, because they think it would make it easier for them to defeat me and the Conservatives want me to, because I am a party member and they would like another candidate with a strong track record. I remain Independent. There isnít room here to explain fully why, but you can click here for a fuller explanation. The basic reason is that my experience of West Devon Borough Council tells me that it works best without a political party majority. I should not be true to what I believe if I took party colours. I once contested a County Council seat as a Conservative, because, unlike West Devon Borough Council, the County is so firmly party-politically controlled that an Independent is almost useless to you there but West Devon isn't ... and I don't think it ought to be.

If you doubt the merits of an Independent council, look at the breakdown of your Council Tax. Countyís part of it has risen 18% this year, while West Devonís has risen by inflation only (2.6%). Need I say more?

I am standing down from the Town Council this time. After 16 years, I think it is time to make way for new and I hope younger blood. I also want to have more time to concentrate on the work of the Planning Committee at West Devon. I am immodest enough to think I have made a sound and workmanlike job of that and should appreciate the opportunity to build on the achievements of the last four years. During the last reporting year, despite having refused slightly more than the average proportion of planning applications, we have lost none on appeal. I donít claim personal credit for that but itís a fact and I see no reason not to tell you.

To see what else I have been up to since 1999, click here.

Local Government Reorganisation Again?

There are two issues, both being pushed at us by the government, which seems to think that councils exist mainly to push their ideas onto all of us. OK, they are the elected government, so to some extent thatís to be expected. The trouble is that England isnít all the same all over. One size just doesnít fit all, which is why we have local government to deal with local issues in a way that suits local communities. Yet the government has already pushed a parliamentary model of "Cabinet" rule onto most councils and intends to create "Regional" Assemblies to replace the English Counties.

"Cabinet" style councils are modelled on Parliament. A small group, all of one party, make all the important decisions. The rest of the councillors can only "scrutinise" or "call in" decisions. A few small councils, including West Devon, have been allowed to keep our traditional committee system, but we are under pressure (mostly from Liberal Democrats, who see councils as a power base) to change. The claim is that cabinets make decisions more quickly than committees. That may be true, but it makes a nonsense of the concept of local democracy.

Regional Assemblies are a move towards "big" government. The proposed South West Region would extend from Tewkesbury to Lands End. West Devon would be lucky to get a single seat. In Tavistock, you will have seven seats on West Devon Council, but would have none on the South West Regional Assembly. Our rural interests would be swamped by the big cities, which would take most of the seats.

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Vote Independent - Vote MATHEW
on 1 May 2003

Published as an Internet document by R W Mathew, Willowby, Down Road, Tavistock, Devon

Click here to go to the top of page 1 or here for the top of this page.


What happened on 1 May 2003