Notices

Council moving from democracy

Peter Seaward, chairman of Bookham Residents’ Association, has kindly given our Association to publish this copy of the letter which appeared in last week’s Leatherhead Advertiser:

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The letter published in the Advertiser on December 13 from Councillor Malcolm Johnson titled “More transparency and a lot less talk” omitted to record the fact that the focus groups he refers to consisted of a total of just 18 people, according to the ABA report.

From a Mole Valley population of 80,000, this is hardly enough to justify the undemocratic changes now being enacted.

The words below are comments from John Pagella, deputy chairman of the Bookhams Residents’ Association and reflect the disappointment and disillusionment felt by our organization, and, I suggest, other similar bodies in the Leatherhead area over this whole process:

“There is a sad inevitability about the whole process.   Increasingly, our public life today is managed as a parallel world for the convenience and satisfaction of those within, with little real understanding or regard for the attitudes and day-to-day concerns of the wider population outside that it is meant to represent.

“Consultation is managed on their terms and regard for local opinion is invariably confined to accepting the views they hear when it coincides with what they intend to do, and ignoring those views for the rest of the time.

“Will forums add anything?   I rather doubt it.   

“If our elected representatives paused for a moment, they might reflect on the fact that residents’ associations locally have greater democratic legitimacy than they do.   Our membership in Bookham covers about 50% of the population.   We count our membership in thousands.   They manage to get elected on votes in the hundreds.   It would be nice to get back to the days when the former Leatherhead Council was run on non-political lines.   I can’t see it happening, I’m afraid.”

Peter Seaward,  Chairman of the Bookhams Residents’ Association, Atwood, Little Bookham.