Monday, April 25, 2011

Whose opinion and whose needs?

As councillors we represent, or are supposed to, all the people in our ward.  But there are very few issues on which everyone agrees and so there's a need for a balancing act - whose opinion should carry the most weight?  Or is there a middle way? 
The current licensing application for the Eagle Service Station is a case in point.  The part of the application causing most concern is the 24 hour provision of alcohol for consumption off the premises.  Neighbours cannot see why anyone should want to sell alcohol for 24 hours a day.  Many are really worried that young people who already take alcohol into Preston Park to drink will be encouraged to pop back to top up their supplies if there's a premises just over the road.  The applicant of course wants to make an income, and has suggested a compromise - what if the licence stops at midnight?  Some people might think this is a better deal, but the close neighbours we spoke to weren't convinced at all. So where is the right path?  Whose needs should be paramount? 
There's a group of young people who tend to play football on the road during winter because the grass they use in the summer has no lighting but the road does.  How do we provide a space for them that's safe but doesn't spoil the enjoyment of the householders around the area? 
What about the people who would like a street light on a dark path to make it safer to walk home from work or shops?  Will it encourage young people to congregate and be noisy and then make people feel less safe?  That's what some say, including at times the police.  So whose opinion carries the most weight?
The joys of being a councillor!  I remember the concentration needed to walk along the balance beam in PE at school - perhaps that was the training course for a later life.

No comments: