29 November 2006

Somerton and sheep.

Its been a couple of days since the village hall meeting and that has given me time to think about what did or didn't happen. I was surprised at the passivity of the community in the face of some really outrageous statements by the Town Council. But maybe this is part of the Somerton problem - the community doesn't question. Anything that the Town Council says must be true. What I did notice is that anyone who did seek to contradict the Town Council's position was a) in the absolute minority and b) broadly ignored. If the situation wasn't so sad it might be really funny and I wonder if this speaks to Somerton's broader challenges.

The meeting was (poorly) attended by a majority of senior citizens. I don't know if anyone at the meeting was under forty but it certainly didn't look like it. So where is the wider community? Clearly they don't get involved and its useful to ask why not? Maybe the very nature of 'local politics', certainly as they are pursued in Somerton, just turns people off. The reputation of the Town Council is that of an exclusive clique run by three or four members where everyone else just follows along like sheep. The Town Council also has a reputation for speaking out of both sides of its mouth and the village hall meeting was a good example.

Much was made of the need to be positive and constructive, the suggestion being that anything else just isn't helpful. Yet two of the councillors present went out of their way to make bitchy comments about previous members of the council (who clearly disagree with the current approach). At the same time, the same councillors went to great lengths to tell the meeting just how much they were doing for local people and they were not being paid. I assume the idea is that local people are meant to be grateful. The same councillors also make much of the fact that, whilst they are unpaid, they are having to deal with staffers from the County Council who are paid vast salaries. This kind of self-justification only raises doubts about what councillors are really up to - 'Methinks the maiden protesteth too much'.

Even with my very limited experience of Somerton's Town Council, it is already clear that they do things in a most peculiar way. I'm reminded of that movie "Roadhouse" with Patrick Swayze - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098206/plotsummary - where a one-horse town is run by vested interests for their own benefit. I wonder if Somerton is like that? If it is then I'm definitely not looking to play 'Dalton'.