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In Full . . .

THE VILLAGE VIEW

Posted on April 29 2015 at 11:43:12

Whoa! Hold on . . . don’t go away! We won’t even use the “P” word, if you prefer.  But how about the “D” word? Yes, that’s the one: “Disenfranchised.”

That’s how some, nay, many village voters are going to be feeling when they roll up to the booths on May 7 to choose the people who will represent them in the council chamber in Bromsgrove – the place where decisions made will determine whether you’re allowed to build that extension or how much you’ll have to pay to have your garden rubbish carted away.

Say you have centre or left-leaning sensibilities – you’ll be wanting to choose a Labour candidate, maybe, or perhaps a Lib Dem (if you can just, for that moment, forget the tuition fees U-turn).

But across this area there isn’t always choice. In the new Alvechurch South ward, for instance, you’re going to be handed a polling slip bearing the names of just two candidates: one is the Tory who has been around forever (and who already doesn’t get on with the parish council); the other is representing UKIP (she does have the added appeal of being a pub landlady).

In the equally new, and vaguely nonsensical, Barnt Green and Hopwood ward, there would only be the one candidate (a Tory chap from Catshill who has apparently already done all the jobs in the Bromsgrove “cabinet”) were it not for the independent challenge of Charlie Hotham, born and bred in Barnt Green – who has pledged to get on with parish councils, is deputy chairman of the one in Barnt Green, and has got down on his knees to pick up litter in the lanes of Hopwood.

The story is little better elsewhere, with the Cofton and Marlbrook wards only saved from being two-horse races by the Green challenges of husband and wife candidates Jill and Peter Harvey.

It’s a shame there wasn’t another Harvey to add more interest in the Lickey Hills ward, where the choice is either Conservative or Lib Dem.

What does this tell us? Quite simply, that in an area where one party is dominant, few others feel much like bothering. It surely happens in Labour areas too, and how many Tories will be raising blue flags north of the Border?

As we’re never going to be able to take party politics – oops, sorry, but we’re nearly done – out of local government, perhaps it really is time to find another way.

The Labour parliamentary candidate suggested at the Alvechurch election forum that some kind of proportional voting system could be used so we don’t end up with what he termed “single party states”.

That’s a fine idea, but the main parties, including his own, are unfortunately never going to vote for that.


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