20 December 2010

A time for reflection.........

In the light of the recent arrests in Somerton, I took a little time to assemble various press cuttings covering the Somerton Saga since October of last year (see 'Press Coverage'). As part of that effort I have included a random selection of letters which were published in the Western Gazette and they probably make more interesting reading than the main articles. These letters don't particularly add anything other than illustrate the prejudiced and limited views that many members of the local community hold with regard to 'how things should be done'.

One of the regular criticisms levelled at M&B, and repeated by some of the letter-writers, was that using a blog or using the internet as a platform for comment somehow 'wasn't the done thing'. I have also read comments made by ex-councillors that the 'way to do things' was to come to the Council (bending the knee, tugging the forelock etc etc) and speak directly to the council. Now I had one early experience of that process in 2005 when seeking to comment on a planning application (an application from a then councillor) and the Chair's response was to accuse me of counterfeiting or forging documents. Not quite the open and inclusive response that I expected or that the WestGaz letter-writers promote.

After that, in 2008 when I had enquiries to make, I wrote to the Council and their response in that situation was to take legal advice on how not to respond. Then, in 2009, when I went to the Council offices and looked at documents (and photographed them) the Council's response was to obstruct further access. So, today, at the end of 2010, I look back and wonder what was the most effective communication tool and the blog still seems to be the #1 method. Importantly, it was the one channel which the Council could not silence or ignore and, probably equally significantly, it was a channel which was open to others.

So, looking forward to 2011, I hope that those letter-writers find time to celebrate the 'cleaning up of local politics' and, at the same time, they might consider just how much their complacency and smug self-righteousness contributed to Somerton's woes, woes that they did nothing to address or resolve.

Till next time, I'm still Niall Connolly

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