Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Western Area of the Borough has the benefit of Parish or Town Councils as a first tier of local government. From Kirklevington to Preston and from Long Newton to Egglescliffe the area is covered by Parishes of varying size but with one thing in common: the councils which they elect are genuinely local. To stand for election as a Parish Councillor one must live or work very near or in the area of that Parish. So when parish councils speak borough councillors are wise to listen. Whenever I chair the meetings of the Western Area Partnership Board I know that the people round that table truly represent the area - they are elected to do so and they take their responsibilities very seriously. We're fortunate to live in an area with so many people willing to be part of local democracy. That's why I get very annoyed when some complain about the cost of by-elections for these councils. If democracy is worth having it's worth paying for in my view. The right to put a mark beside someone's name and put the paper in the ballot box is something which my great-grandmother didn't have. I have met people who fought to have that right in their country. If we don't use it we'll lose it - we need to cherish our right to vote and use it whenever possible.
Tomorrow a panel is meeting to decide which of the bids for money from the "Spaces for Play" grant should be taken further. For most decisions of this kind I'd be involved as a member of the Borough Play Partnership, but on this occasion I had to stand back. Egglescliffe & Eaglescliffe council has put in a major bid and I've been part of the discussions to formulate that bid. I couldn't be considered as having an open mind therefore! Obviously I hope that we'll be successful but I'm also aware that there's a number of other bids from the Western Area and other Parish councils have been active in putting them in. I really do hope that they are all successful - the people of this area deserve to have some super play spaces and their ideas have been really imaginative. Fingers crossed.

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