Editor warns guests of the widening chasm between councillors and officials
LOCAL Government is in danger of moving headlong into a political system where those who are elected to serve are diametrically at odds with those appointed to serve . The warning was given on Friday by John Elworthy, Editor of the Cambs Times and Wisbec
LOCAL Government is in danger "of moving headlong into a political system where those who are elected to serve are diametrically at odds with those appointed to serve".
The warning was given on Friday by John Elworthy, Editor of the Cambs Times and Wisbech Standard, in a speech to guests and dignitaries at the annual Mayor of March's civic banquet and ball.
Mr Elworthy, proposing the toast to the town of March, said: "It is a maddening and at times frustrating outcome of this chasm between both that we lose sight of what is really important in all of this
"That is for an improvement in people's life, the raising of their aspirations, some move towards improved public transport and progress on what has been loosely termed a master plan for March which, as I understand, will be some form of panacea to add some vigour to the centre of the town.
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"In proposing this toast, I make a plea and partly a wish and that is for those engaged in public service and public duty to remember the precise terms of what that means.
"There was a time when those who opted to join local government had a sense of mission, a passion and a commitment to public service.
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"They did not join to tick boxes, did not join because of self aggrandisement, they did not join to play God with public money. They signed up for very noble reasons and in many ways are the same reasons why those who offered themselves to the electorate opted to play their part in our democratic process.
"Whilst hoping, probably like many of you, to see a return to principles of trust and proper engagement with our community, I do see storm clouds gathering that may test those involved in our town affairs more quickly and more rigorously than they might hitherto have imagined."
Mr Elworthy added: "There are positives, in fact many of them, to be found here in March, and I see activities such as those highlighted through our own Kids Are Alright campaign, the work of YPM, the extent of social responsibility at Neale Wade, and the growing enthusiasm for clubs and societies across the town to be indicative of a re-awakening of community spirit and enterprise.
"Sadly I look for the positives to emerge from other areas and I fear the disillusionment that many have with the processes and implementation of local government is going to deepen still further in the coming years."
He said that the "consequences of the failure to bring to March a new campus for the College of West Anglia borders on catastrophic almost goes without saying, and it can only be hoped that Alan Melton's trip to Brussels this week - in search not so much as the winning mbers for the Euro Millions lottery but for the diversion of some EU Euro millions to Fenland- bears fruit.
"My concerns, however, centre on the growing disillusionment with various forms of our local government which have served us so well throughout much of the 20th century but in recent years leaves a dispassionate observer such as myself quite aghast at the endemic culture now prevailing.