West Midlands NO!

Regional government: unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable and unwanted

Councillor Stephen Bentley on City Region

Posted by wonkotsane on December 28, 2006

Thanks to our friends at Telford Council Watch and their anonymous whistleblower, The Insider, we have a rare insight into the workings of Telford & Wrekin Council including a frank exchange of views on the City Region.

Councillor Stephen Bentley sent the following email to Councillor Keith Austin (Leader of the council) and other councillors:


May I first extend my thanks to San on her efforts in the Dawley Magna election. Unfortunately, despite the hard work, she was not successful.
The result, however, was not unexpected as we are no longer seen, either Nationally or locally, as the peoples representatives.

Nationally we have no control! Locally, however we do!

We now need to unify and collectively establish a NOW strategy and focus.

Our electorate are just not interested in the city and major Town Centre redevelopment propaganda. Although there are views that we should listen to, we are continually preaching to them and at this time, their interests are more personal and parochial.

This bigger agenda can be for the time being confined to Group and Cabinet discussions.

As the elected leaders we now must take the initiative away from our opponents and begin addressing the overall concerns of the electorate — those whose quality of life is governed by our decision making.

Let us begin within the council. Our many employees are also our electorate yet within them we have disillusionment they are not seeing us as affecting change, and those who either challenge or try to include silenced or moved away.

Olive branches and admissions of error can be a hugely acceptable way of restoring confidence and moral.

May07 will soon be upon us but we still have time to reestablish the credibility of our party before that date. Within our ranks there is much untapped potential. I believe that Richard needs to be included — the parliamentary link is vital.

Why not let Phil Homer be our spokesperson on the hospital, linking essentially with Ute, Dave Morgan and Liz.

We should be commenting more frequently on the proposed changes as a group.

Why are we not talking more about the rail freight and the potential this provides the town ?

Woodside is another opportunity we are missing lets use the changes, more beneficially to our advantage.

Let us admit to ourselves we were exposed as weak when we rescinded our car parking charges when we should have thought more about implementation across the Borough, spending the money directly in each area. This brought about tawpa. Then came HOOP which is centred around the Town Park issues.

Now we need strength — let us seize the moment and regain control in May07 in the past we have given a commitment to parish/ town councils more recently we have not used to our benefit their useful links to the communities as the grass roots of local government.

We should be listening to the people, and serving the people taking account of their concerns/ comments making sure we take them with us by proper, honest consultation.


Councillor Keith Austin replies:

Dear Steve,

Whilst you are entitled to your views and opinions-I really don’t think that airing them on the e-mail system is a very good idea. They (your views) would be welcome within a private Group meeting.

I have agreed with Douglas Bridger from Regionai Office that he will join us next Tuesday afternoon at Prlorslee (after our away day session) when we can start to discuss (in private) some of the issues around why it happened and the way forward as well as preparing the draft manifesto for wider Party consultation via the LGC process.

Shallow hasty analysis will only serve to hinder the corporately responsible action that is required for as a united Group. To that end we must all exercise self discipline and Party loyalty!

In the meantime it’s business as usual we are still the largest single Party within the Council and it would take all of the others to take/support a bid for the administration which would be extremely difficult for them to achieve.

Best Wshes.

Keith Austin
Borough of Telford and Wrekin

Interesting.  The council knows and acknowledges that the electorate don’t want the City Region but the answer is to pull together and remain loyal to the party.  The council knows and acknowledges that the electorate should be consulted on issues of concern but the answer is to remain loyal to the party.

Lets see the Labour Party propaganda machine put a positive spin on this!


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