11 September 2012

Where does it hurt?

Last week's Western Gazette (Somerton & Langport Edition) carried a few stories which caught my eye. P7 had the Leader of SSDC, Ric Pallister, bemoaning the latest 'kickstart the economy' idea from David Cameron who is, allegedly, the Prime Minister. Dave's idea is that he's going to make it easier for developers to get planning consents and, in this way, he's going to help get the construction industry going again. Dear Ric is worried that this proposal will wreak havoc in our green and pleasant land but obviously Ric hasn't been looking at what the Area North Committee within SSDC have been up to in the past. Area North beat Dave to the punch and instigated their very own 'bend over for developers' policy when they approved Tony Canvin's application for Badger's Cross against serious opposition from the local community. Ric should be looking a little closer to home when he worries about "open season" for developers.

Then there was the story on Page 2 about the by-election in Langport where the turn-out was 15%, something that was described by SSDC as being, "particularly low for a town/parish council by-election". Maybe the problem is that the electors of Langport aren't used to being given the chance to vote for their representatives. Chris Osborne, Chair of the Town Council, described the by-election as a "waste of money", a statement that had peculiar echoes of the Keenan/Canvin regime's view of local democracy. Reading from the Keenan/Canvin playbook, Chris went on to suggest that the electoral disinterest was proof that everything was quite perfect with Langport Town Council. Hmmmmm.

But the saddest story of all was on the front page where uncertainty was reported over the future of Somerton's long-awaited health centre. Those readers with long enough memories will remember that Somerton Town Council, under the esteemed leadership of Messers Keenan & Canvin, had a deal on the table to sell part of the Etsome Terrace site to GPI who were going to use the land to build a health centre. From my own understanding, that deal was all but done when Tony Canvin called GPI and told them that the price  of the Etsome site had risen from £400,000 to £1,000,000. GPI could not afford Canvin's demand and, as a consequence, GPI pulled out.

Today, the Doctor's Surgery in Somerton is, by all accounts only marginally fit for purpose and a very poor relation when compared to the excellent facilities in Langport. The economic climate has changed radically since 2007, when Canvin pulled the plug on GPI building at Etsome, and that may have something to do with the current difficulties that John Bailey is experiencing.

However you look at it, the Keenan/Canvin administration's decision to put a sweetheart deal together with Edgar Homes over Etsome Terrace gave Somerton a very dodgy community hall and a pretty shabby surgery. That is their real legacy.

Till next time, I'm still Niall Connolly