12 January 2010

An end to responsibility...........

Over the last three months, mainly since the Somerset Suiciders made their grand exit, M&B has come in for a fair amount of stick from the 'Suiciders' supporters. A lot of it has been pretty foul-mouthed and incoherent and very little of it has made much sense but a theme does seem to be appearing which goes along the lines of, "OK, the old Council have gone, now leave them to get on with it".

I thought about this for a while and realised that some elements in the town, the supporters of the old guard certainly, think that now we that have a new Council then everything is magically OK. Job done. Sorted. No more problems. And the implication is that the town can once again settle into the semi-comatose stupor that it occupied throughout the Dark Ages. The logic is that the town or, more accurately, the community doesn't have to bother anymore because the new Council will sort everything out.

And that, my friends, is exactly where you are mistaken.

The reason that Somerton's Town Council settled so deeply into a 'Democratic Deficit' was precisely because the community didn't bother. The other side of this equation is that the Town Council didn't bother to engage the Community. But in the main, the reason that Somerton Town Council, pre 27th October 2009, was out of control was because the community had, quite literally, walked away leaving the Town Council to run riot with the taxpayers hard earned dosh. There were a small number of concerned citizens who made an effort but most meetings I attended between November 2006 and June 2009 were lucky to have an audience in double figures. With hindsght it took very little to bring the Town Council to heel (eg Behind Berry and Badger's Cross) but it took a long time to get there.

And there is another aspect of this situation which shoud be mentioned - Somerton Town Council's 'Democratic Deficit' created Muck & Brass. Without that Democratic Deficit, Muck & Brass would have nothing to say.

Here we come down to it. Somerton Town Council, going forward, will be empowered by the Community's involvement. If the Community get directly involved and maintain an ongoing dialogue with the Town Council then the Town Council will automatically reflect the will of the people. If the Community sits back now then the risk is that, over time, exactly the same situation will arise which led to 27th October 2009.

There is no end to responsiblity and, in fact, the opposite is true - this is the beginning of responsibility. This is an opportunity to restart the democratic process and I hope that the community grabs the chance with both hands.

Till next time, I'm Niall Connolly