Column: Does anyone feel represented?

Tameena Hussain

Naively, I used to think local politics was immune to the games played at national level, putting local people at the heart of its decision making.

However, it’s anything but that.

Under the leadership of Cllr Johnson, a reign starting in September 2019, he said his council will be ‘one that listens’ but about as much has changed on the listening front as it has in so-called transparency.

Yet, the same old bravado continues, along with the familiar unwelcome qualities of predecessors gone, but far from forgotten.

Belmont is currently under election siege and I hope the residents are challenging those who knock on doors.

I wonder what pledges the council will run on at the next election. Low taxes? Not a chance. Weekly bin collections? What happened to those?

And how are we still watching situations play out on Zoom that would be comical if they weren’t among people who are supposed to represent us?

You’d think the council would’ve adapted to the COVID world and provided residents an opportunity to listen in using the right technology, but it seems that the lack of provision is an ideal way to turn people off and lack accountability.

Not one person I’ve spoken to about local issues is impressed.

Local people are frustrated – the Borough Local Plan is being railroaded, taxpayers’ money wasted on temporary car parks and the Maidenhead Golf Course development is set to go ahead despite the huge number of objections.

The council’s approach is to make a fast buck to get themselves out of the financial black hole they put themselves in by taking a very short-sighted approach, causing irreversible damage, but it’s going down like a lead balloon.

Not only is the council ignoring residents, it seems like it’s not interested in the voice of local bodies either.

The Maidenhead Civic Society published a ‘living vision’ for the town’s future – the second version of the document but I feel that the past and current track record of the administration, they’ve lost all influence.

It’s a worthy effort from people who care but until things change, I’m hard pressed to see what bearing it can have on the upper echelons of the Town Hall.

Last week, I was having a coffee with my CEO. He called me a ‘community and justice warrior’ – I am.

I care about where I live, I care about doing the right thing for the right reasons and I want my town to be a better place to live but, if I’m honest with myself, I’m dismayed at the state of local democracy.

I’m angry at those who live in the Parliament bubble and I’ve just about had enough.

Our former PM Theresa May is a great local MP, helping constituents and is speaking a lot of common sense in Parliament right now – maybe Cllr Johnson and others can take a leaf out of her book.

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