Friday, September 09, 2005

So who gets to be mayor of Torbay?

After the Conservatives decided last night to elect former mayor and existing councillor Nick Bye as our candidate many people are asking : will we be beaten by one of the grwoing number of independent candidates?

Could Sammy the Seagull steal the show?

Much has been made in the press, mainly through the Herald Express letters page, that voters want a 'non-political' person to win the mayoral contest. But why? Why do they say they want someone with no political experience to become Torbay's No 1 politician?

Would you, for instance want a 'non pilot' to be commanding the 747 you are due to fly on? Would you want to be operated on by someone 'not connected with the medical profession'?

So why doe people apparently seem so keen on a political freshman for Mayor?

The given reason is that the public have becme disillusioned with party politicians, somehow the Tories are to blame 'as well' because we had a three years stunt in 2000-2003 and therefore we are 'equally' culpable. This is unfair and incorrect. When we were in there was a real effort made to at least keep the streets clean, keep the flowerbeds full and keep the Bay's schools open and successful.

Just because the Lib dems have made such a mess of things why should so many letter writers blame 'all politicians' for the state of Torbay? During the 1970's and 1980's the bay was run exclusively by the Conservatives, and there was nowhere near the level of discontent and frustration with the council then. Sure, some poor planning decisions were made but by-and-large the only reason the Tories lost power was nothing to do with local issues, it was all about the poll tax and a very unpopular national Tory party losing out to a very vocal and politically active local Lib Dem party.

The fact is the minute anyone becomes elected to run Torbay they will have to become a politician in very short order. 'No political experience' will quickly equate to 'not a snowball in hells chance of changing anything' when the successful candidate finds themself facing a wall of opposition from the Lib Dems and council officers to any serious changes he or she wants to make.

If we end up with an ineffectual or powerless mayor we will be worse off than ever. The only choice will, in the end, boil down to between having a Conservative mayor who can command at least enough votes in the council to stop the Lib dems opposing what he wants, or a Lib dem mayor who can bulldose anything he wants through the chamber.

And that means the only way to change Torbay for the better on October 20th will be to vote for my colleague Nick Bye.


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Anonymous said...

We just need an independant who is party politics free. Tory and lib dems over the past 16 years have put Torbay where it is now - it's as simple as that.

HJC said...

I think your last comment "Tory and lib dems over the past 16 years have put Torbay where it is now " is unfair. The Lib Dems have had control for all but three of those years, you can't really blame the Tories - they at least tried to turn things round but didn't have long enough.

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Eric Cartman said...

Yes and Eileen Salloway's administration was rated 'poor' by the Audit Commission. Have you forgotten how bad then were ?

Of course, you fail to mention the current situation that has Torbay under the LDs as one of the most improved council's in the country - despite the [rightly] terrible PR re councillor allowances, Torbay Crem, toilets closure, Upton St. James School issueset al.

Marcus Wood said...

Dear Eric
Thanks for your comment. To be fair you are right that we were in charge when the Audit Commission reported us as 'poor' but they began the inspection in 2001, barely 16 months after we had taken office.

The report also said that the failures in the council were systematic and went back 'many years' -even the Lib dems acknowledged that the criticisms included their term in office.

You may believe that Torbay council is one of the most improved councils in the country but the people who count - Torbay residents- overwhelmingly don't agree. They say that while the council has spent time keeping the bureaucrats from Whitehall happy our streets have got dirtier, our services have got worse and our taxes have gone up.

The Audit Commission is a puppet for John prescott and to please them this council have spent millions adopting 'politically correct'policies that most ordinary people think are a waste of time and effort, such as the obsession with 'public safety' that meant hundreds of gravestones being propped up; the unwanted fencing on Paignton Green and the removal of the cross at the Crematorium.

A more wised up group of councillors would have listened to voters, not the Audit Commission.

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