A few nights ago Mike Nobes left a comment about housing figures and said “We need strong leadership, not politics. “
Well, any future battles around housing figures in Rayleigh certainly aren’t going to revolve around national politics. But they are certainly going to be intermeshed with local politics. This post is part one of a look at how things are shaping up….
Last years local elections were a bit of a shock for the Conservatives. It’s worth quoting what we posted here on May 5th , when we were all still feeling a bit excited. It’s the last sentence which is the key here:
We?re just about getting back to normal now after an exhausting few days. For most people local elections are , well, extremely dull. For us it?s been an emotional roller-coaster.
It was wonderful for Jackie to win after all her hard efforts. (It wasn?t hard work because she enjoyed it . But all that calling at peoples? houses for hours and hours does wear you out physically and mentally!)
It was great to see how many people think we are doing a good job in Downhall and Rawreth and in Grange. It?s quite humbling to see people taking 20 or 30 minutes out of their day to come down to the polling station and vote for you. It?s a motivating factor for the months and years ahead – you really feel you have a duty to do a good job.
One of the things we noticed in the campaign was that the local press had completely written us off. The Echo hinted that June might lose her seat. The Rayleigh Times hinted that we could lose June and Ron! Neither of them suggested that we might actually gain a seat.
It was disappointing for us not to have candidates in places like Hawkwell and Great Wakering – but we just didn?t have anybody who wanted to stand. One of our priorities to increase our pool of good potential candidates.
And as for Rayleigh overall – we got 782 more votes than the Conservatives did. People are basically concerned about a lack of facilities and too much development?..
During the elections we hammered home the point about the 1800 figure for Rayleigh. After the elections we showed a bit of leadership in getting proper consultation in Rayleigh on these figures.
The council were only going to have their exhibition in Rayleigh on a Sunday afternoon, but we persuaded them otherwise. As Ron wrote on May 26th:
I?m absolutely gobsmacked that a council officer could come up with such a stupid and illogical reason for choosing Sunday after lunch when Rayleigh is at its quietist.
Surely they can?t be trying to keep our residents in the dark about the plans to site the major part of new housing developments here? (Could they? ?- no I can?t think anyone could be that daft)
The end result was that there was massive public opposition to the figures for Rayleigh , and on September 23rd we could write:
We really should have a quiet celebration this weekend. Because last week the District Council abandoned the housing figures it had originally proposed. These were the figures that gave almost half – 1800 houses – to Rayleigh.
At about this time the ruling Tory Group suggested a new set of figures. These figures reduce the number for Rayleigh to 740, and make up for this by increasing the figures elsewhere in the district.
So far, so good , the public protested strongly about something and the ruling group have given the appearance of responding. That’s how local democracy is supposed to work….
….. In part 2 tomorrow night we can look at how this can all go wrong if the public – and Lib Dem councillors – aren’t vigilant.