Suc­ces­sive at­tempts to thwart democ­racy have failed

Loughborough Echo - - LETTERS - Paul Mercer

IN LAST week’s Echo (Septem­ber 7) Craig Jor­dan had asked res­i­dents of Lough­bor­ough Ashby ward to in­form him if they had re­ceived con­tact from Coun Har­ley Hachem.

In my ex­pe­ri­ence as a Lough­bor­ough ward coun­cil­lor many of the re­quests for help that I re­ceive from con­stituents are of a sen­si­tive na­ture.

There­fore, I sus­pect that if Mr Jor­dan re­quested that they in­form him of any con­tact South­fields res­i­dents have had with me, he would not re­ceive a re­sponse even though I am con­tacted sev­eral times a week.

Since I as­sumed my hous­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity on the Cab­i­net, I have reg­u­larly nu­mer­ous re­quests for as­sis­tance from in­di­vid­ual Labour and Con­ser­va­tive coun­cil­lors in Charn­wood who need help in deal­ing with hous­ing mat- ters. In most cases, I have been able to deal with them my­self and, when I can­not, I re­fer them to of­fi­cers.

When the Labour Party made its first (un­suc­cess­ful) com­plaint about Coun­cil­lor Hachem, I sub­mit­ted a let­ter in which stated that he had con­tacted me on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions for ad­vice on both hous­ing and plan­ning mat­ters.

In that let­ter, I also stated that I had never been con­tacted by his coun­ter­part, Coun Bradshaw.

The May 2015 lo­cal elec­tions co­in­cided with a gen­eral elec­tion and in the run-up to the two cam­paigns the-then Labour par­lia­men­tary can­di­date spent a lot of time en­cour­ag­ing Lough­bor­ough stu­dents to vote.

Partly as a re­sult of his ac­tiv­i­ties the stu­dents did vote in large num­bers and one of the conse- quences was that Labour failed to win what is his­tor­i­cally one of their safe wards. In­stead, Har­ley Hachem, who un­am­bigu­ously stood as a stu­dent, was elected in­stead.

Labour’s lat­est com­plaint is that be­cause he was a stu­dent he spent sev­eral months work­ing in Lon­don as part of his course.

He is now back liv­ing in Lough­bor­ough.

One of the prob­lems with lo­cal govern­ment is that it does de­mand a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time and en­ergy and, as a con­se­quence, rel­a­tively few prospec­tive can­di­dates come for­ward who have full-time jobs.

The ma­jor­ity of those Charn­wood coun­cil­lors who have a job find at­tend­ing ev­ery sin­gle meet­ing a chal­lenge. If we con­tinue judg­ing coun­cil­lors on their at­ten­dance record we run the risk of dis­cour­ag­ing would-be pro­fes­sion­als from even con­sid­er­ing stand­ing for elec­tion, many of whom have im­pres­sive ca­reers, tal­ents and skills that can en­hance the ser­vice the Coun­cil pro­vides to all of its res­i­dents.

Like­wise, the Labour Party can­not claim that it be­lieves that stu­dents and young peo­ple should take part in the demo­cratic process and the moment that they do not vote for their can­di­date start com­plain­ing about them.

The sim­ple fact is that Coun Hachem was demo­crat­i­cally elected by the ma­jor­ity of res­i­dents who voted in Ashby ward and suc­ces­sive at­tempts by Labour to chal­lenge the va­lid­ity of that elec­tion process have failed.

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