No change, then

WHEN it comes to democracy, consultation has become a dirty word.

In the case of the county council’s ruling executive, they have consulted on their new parking strategy for the whole of Northumberland. They have then made a decision behind closed doors, without the involvement of the rest of the elected councillors, to press ahead with their plans.

So will it end the existing inequality in charges dividing the rural north from the urban south east? No. Why? Because the parts of the consultation which clearly point to the need for control measures in the likes of Blyth and Ashington have been dismissed.

In other words, the status quo will be maintained. The likes of Alnwick, Morpeth, Berwick and Hexham will continue to subsidise free parking for the south east of the county, otherwise known as the powerbase for the ruling Liberal Democrat executive.

They find themselves in a tricky situation. Wansbeck and Blyth Valley are still strong Labour areas – and they already have Labour MPs. Introducing an unpopular policy, particularly one which hits residents in the pocket, will no doubt have substantial ramifications in the 2013 council elections.

The best option for them, it seems, is to hang on, change nothing and let the rural north continue to foot the bill.

After all, who cares what we think?