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Need for good opposition councillors on local council

April 26, 2018 10:52 AM

Scott Raven and pothole"We need more opposition voices in the council chamber, to hold the ruling Conservative group to account, to challenge them, to ask difficult questions and to scrutinise their proposals, which ultimately are funded by you, the council taxpayer."


Time and again when we've been canvassing in recent days in the Quainton Ward for the AVDC Council by-election on May 3, voters have been telling us they have yet to make their minds up.

This is a good thing in itself.

(Photo: Scott Raven, Lib Dem candidate for AVDC's Quainton ward, examines a pothole in the ward.)

It suggests that people are moving away from the tribalism of automatic support for one party or another, and want to seriously consider the rival parties' proposals before they commit.

The ruling party, the Conservatives, who held the seat previously, have a hefty majority on the district Council (which will continue were they to lose this seat). So whatever happens, there will be no change to the way the council is run.

It goes without saying that all candidates genuinely want to do a good job for the electors, taking up their issues with the council, trying to sort out local problems, giving their weight to local campaigns, and generally being useful around the ward. There are numerous examples of this, from politicians of all parties, across the district. That is what any good councillor does, and it would be hard to separate the candidates for this election on that basis.

You couldn't say that a Conservative councillor would carry more weight with officers of the council, because all councillors have equal access to officers to pursue legitimate concerns.

Our candidate, Scott Raven, is committed to work for local people. He has the advantage of living within the ward, in North Marston. Some are telling us, too, that they like the idea of a young, energetic candidate who has already shown his commitment by standing as a candidate (in order that people had a real choice) against Mr Speaker Bercow in last year's General Election, taking up their cause.

The Conservative candidate lives in Waddesdon. Not far away, admittedly, but yet he has the preoccupations of his own village on his mind - he is chairman of the parish council, and will not be talking day to day with local people as he walks down his local street. Scott not only lives in the ward, in North Marston, but he also works part-time in his local pub, the Pilgrim.

But there's something else that the LibDem candidate can offer, if he is elected. The Conservatives currently hold around 40 seats on AVDC, an impregnable majority which is allows them to do pretty well as they please. The Lib Dems have 10 seats overall, Labour two and the Independents four.

We urgently need more opposition voices in the council chamber, to hold the ruling Conservative group to account, to challenge them, to ask difficult questions and to scrutinise their proposals, which ultimately are funded by you, the council taxpayer.

One good example is the Aylesbury Vale Broadband scheme, proposed by the Conservative leader of the council and backed by his group. When it was implemented, there was a lot of concern about its viability from the opposition Lib Dems and other councillors, but they went unheeded.

Now the company, supported by around £700,000 in the form of a publicly-funded commercial loan from AVDC, is in trouble. The council has agreed to an independent inquiry into the controversial project.

This is the sort of initiative that needs intelligent questioning from an opposition. If good answers are given to our questions, then so be it. But those questions have to be asked, and one more Conservative elected to the ruling group, means there is one more person less likely to rock the ruling party's boat.

Good democracy relies on healthy debate and argument, strong opposition and proper scrutiny of decisions.

Scott Raven, who is a keen mind, and a close interest in local issues is a man who wants to ask those difficult questions.