4 January 2010

Declaring an interest......

Reading candidate's literature can be pretty pointless because anyone can waffle-on about 'caring for the community'. Words, as our politicians have so often shown us, are cheap, and no words are as cheap as those used to solicit our votes. As a result I've had to base my own views of our candidates upon what I know of those candidates and, of the current batch, Pauline Clarke has been the greatest disappointment with regard to her involvement in promoting Tony Canvin's Badger's Cross scheme.

A County Officer, Martin Gerrish, wrote an assessement of the Badger's Cross scheme and, having read his report, it was obvious to me that the developer had been involved in serious negotiations with SWP. As a result, I made a Freedom of Information enquiry of SWP and they provided some 72 pages of correspondence. What surprised, and disappointed me was to find that our then County Councillor, Pauline Clarke, had acted as a go-between, presenting the Badger's Cross scheme to SWP on behalf of the developer, Mr Tony Canvin. The correspondence shows that Pauline Clarke acted in the capacity of go-between from September '07 to September '08 and, as I understand it, did not declare this involvement publicly. This is exactly the kind of secretive behaviour that has destroyed the public's trust in our representatives and I, for one, would like to hear Pauline's explanation of her actions. What I won't do is give her my vote.

Vic Medley is a strident apologist for the Canvin/Keenan administration so should be avoided.

Of the other candidates, both Nancy Langmaid and Brian Raybould have already been members of Somerton Town Council during the Canvin/Keenan administartion. Neither did anything to counter the irregular conduct of Somerton Town Council's business whilst both, in common with all other ex-councillors, must be in possession of 'guilty knowedge' about the Town Council's affairs. Had either been bothered enough to report to SSDC's Monitoring Officer or to the Standards Board for England & Wales, action might have been taken far sooner to regularise the affairs of Somerton Town Council. Neither deserve a vote.

Thankfully there are a truck-load of alternative candidates and, whilst I haven't met them all, I have made an effort to meet as many as possible and, with the exception of those mentioned above, they seem (and I use the word advisedly) they seem to be a decent bunch. What many of them do not fully appreciate is the scale of the challenge that they face and, by far and away, the biggest challenge will be raising the poor standards which are embraced by our Town Clerk, Mr Roger Calderwood.

Mr Calderwood has been in post throughout the Canvin/Keenan administration and clearly has agreed with and enabled the activities of the Town Council. He fails to set a sufficiently high standard with regard to the Council's administration and our new councillors will have to educate him with regard to how the Town Council should be run. That alone is going to be a real challenge and I do not envy our new councillors this task.

Till next time.