POLITICS: Let’s go back to the basics

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I write regarding the Conservatives’ Northumberland survey, Your Views Matter.

It is with a certain degree of dismay that once again, as an election approaches, we are being canvassed on our views with the assumption that they are actually taken into account.

At best I believe the survey is loaded to give the feedback the parties want, and at worst it is yet another ticky box exercise to be ignored. Excuse our cynicism, but what was the Neighbourhood Plan all about?

We went to a minimum of four meetings to discuss and address the future of our town.

An awful lot of money and time went into formulating a plan that incorporated the wishes and suggestions of the community.

This took place over a number of years.

What did it produce? A plan where over 90 per cent of the suggestions were thrown out or ignored, leaving about three potential possibilities that may or may not be included.

It was a complete waste of money, our time, and ultimately another exercise in futility (ticky box).

This is not the only occasion that we have tried to get involved in planning for a better future for our society. Remember the Green Deal?

We were paid to attend a meeting to discuss the needs of improving property to cut energy costs, and therefore a cleaner environment.

Even at that level, it was clear that the premise on which the Green Deal was being structured was flawed.

We gave our feedback, knowing that such meetings were being held and paid for all over the country, hoping that our input would make a positive contribution.

We were asked to go to a follow-on meeting, also paid for, to explore further the issues arising.

The amount of money that must have been thrown into this exercise is appalling as none of the concerns were properly addressed.

The meeting was held and it seemed that we were there just to fulfil yet another ticky box exercise, with no expectations of a positive outcome.

We now know that the project was a complete disaster, despite all Government protestations to the contrary.

We do not like being used as political footballs and object strongly to the simplistic nature of a survey that indicates that our views matter when in the grand scheme of things, they apparently do not.

Finally, there are so many things that matter to us and our family, but from a local viewpoint, just keeping our town functioning with clean streets, drains that drain, roads without potholes, protection of our town centre character and proper, enforced penalties for dog poo offenders, would be welcome.

A start at the bottom might be a good beginning.

Peter and Veronica Ballan,

Percy Terrace,