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Letter: Democracy Is Hard But Local Politicians Must Remain Accountable

Published on: 9 May, 2022
Updated on: 9 May, 2022

From: Mark Brett-Warburton

Former Conservative county councillor

In response to: County Councillor Will No Longer Engage Because of Editor’s ‘Bias’

The local press, when it questions rather than just acts as a vehicle for advertising, is an important part of the mechanism to hold those making decisions on behalf of a community to account.

For politicians to refuse to engage with the local press indicates a slide towards unaccountable governance.

Democracy is hard, it doesn’t just happen, it requires restraint and commitment to principles which include listening, engagement and transparency. Failure to uphold those principles cannot be justified on the basis of self-interest or personal convenience.

Accountability forms the tacit relationship between the public and those wishing to be at the heart of governance on any level, although I always consider it even more relevant at the local level as the representatives, ideally, form part of the community they represent.

When that relationship breaks down the restraining influences that come from a healthy dialogue no longer exist, and inevitably lead to decisions that do not reflect the interests of the community but satisfy some other agenda.

This is why we should always be concerned when politicians refuse pointedly to engage with the local press on important issues. It is a clear signal that they consider themselves beyond accountability for their actions, which is a form of political laziness, or worse, they fear accountability because they cannot justify the decisions they have made in a way that is acceptable to the community.

Having said this, I also believe rejection of accountability is the choice of individuals and, in this case, does not represent the wider view of Conservatives, many of whom are committed to the community, their environment and good governance.

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Responses to Letter: Democracy Is Hard But Local Politicians Must Remain Accountable

  1. Margaret Rotherham Reply

    May 9, 2022 at 12:09 pm

    Hear, hear.

  2. Mark Stamp Reply

    May 9, 2022 at 9:12 pm

    If this is not the wider view of the local Conservative party, I expect we will hear the relevant local Conservative associations publicly censure Cllrs Furniss, Manning and Spooner or other members of the party and publicly distance themselves from this behaviour.

    Silence on the matter by any local politician implies that they are not willing to stand up for democracy.

  3. David Roberts Reply

    May 10, 2022 at 12:34 pm

    When, oh when, will sensible local Tories get rid of the stale remnants of the pre-2019 Guildford Conservative administration who continue to drag public standards down and blight their party’s prospects for next May’s borough elections?

    Over many years, people compared by one Conservative councillor to “bloody rabble” have doled out hundreds of thousands of pounds in allowances and expenses to these time-servers. It’s time for decent party members to sweep away the lot of them, along with their acceptance of corporate hospitality from property developers, their junkets in China and their catastrophic Local Plan.

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