Coun­cil­lors should be will­ing to serve

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION -

A PARISH coun­cil is a lo­cal author­ity recog­nised by law and funded by tax pay­ers’ money.

It’s meant to be lo­cal democ­racy, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive lo­cally elected body of 15 who make de­ci­sions as the demo­cratic voice of Chal­font St Peter (CSP). But, if CSP PC in­sists on be­ing a party po­lit­i­cal parish coun­cil, it can be nei­ther demo­cratic nor rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

Imag­ine say­ing only Lib­eral Democrats can vol­un­teer in our com­mu­nity li­brary, only Labour Party vol­un­teers can help at the Chiltern Open Air Mu­seum or only mem­bers of UKIP can vol­un­teer on the Cham­ber of Com­merce?

It would be a lu­di­crous no­tion. What does po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion have to do with any­one’s will­ing­ness to serve?

It’s equally lu­di­crous then to sug­gest that only card-car­ry­ing mem­bers of the Con­ser­va­tive Party can serve on our parish coun­cil. Our only in­sis­tence should be that our PC con­sists of com­mit­ted, com­mu­nity-minded in­di­vid­u­als who wish to serve their vil­lage.

Hav­ing a party po­lit­i­cal parish coun­cil makes me very un­com­fort­able. It makes a large num­ber of peo­ple in CSP un­com­fort­able, as the Face­book cam­paign CSP:Peo­ple not Pol­i­tics! shows.

A party po­lit­i­cal coun­cil is just not fair – not to res­i­dents who don’t get demo­cratic rep­re­sen­ta­tion, not to vol­un­teers and not to parish staff caught up in po­lit­i­cal par­ti­san­ship.

If be­ing a party po­lit­i­cal parish coun­cil is bet­ter than be­ing a po­lit­i­cally neu­tral parish coun­cil, why is CSP the only parish coun­cil that in­sists on it?

Lit­tle Chal­font, Ger­rards Cross, Chal­font St Giles and other sur­round­ing parish coun­cils are all non-po­lit­i­cal. They have coun­cil­lors rep­re­sent­ing main po­lit­i­cal par­ties and a few coun­cil­lors who serve in­de­pen­dent of any po­lit­i­cal party. Some even have a ma­jor­ity from a sin­gle po­lit­i­cal party but nev­er­the­less, they re­main of­fi­cially neu­tral and a-po­lit­i­cal.

That sounds like the ideal we should be de­mand­ing for our parish coun­cil.

KAREN DICK­SON Chal­font St Peter Parish Coun­cil­lor (in­de­pen­dent)

I would like to be served by a coun­cil­lor who wants to do what’s best for the vil­lage re­gard­less of their po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion which can get in the way of do­ing what’s best.

FI IVIN via email

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