To the Editor, Royal Sutton Coldfield Observer
I am prompted to write following the letter by Olive O’Sullivan in this week’s edition concerning the legal responsibilities affecting refuse collections. While I have great respect for Olive she completely misses the point. The Town Council had an opportunity to show some leadership by organising a service to assist the residents with taking their rubbish to the tip if they were unable to do so themselves. This is a big problem for the elderly and the disabled. This happened in other parts of Birmingham, why not Sutton? We need the Town Council to respond during a crisis, to stand back and say that it is down to the mismanagement by Birmingham is to make a political point which does not help the residents.
I voted against setting up this Council in the first place in line with the Conservative view at the time because I feared it would be a waste of time and money or a ‘Pig and a Poke’ as stated by our MP. Subsequently I have watched the council being run by the majority group as a ‘One Party State’ with elected Town Councillors being told to toe the party line. As a result, it is neither inclusive or representative of all the town’s residents. Boldmere in particular has suffered at the hands of the Town Council as out lined by Councillor Long in his resent letter. The reasons for this are unclear but one suspects that it is down to the ward electing only one Conservative Councillor in 2016
The Town Council should be run for the benefit of all residents by the residents and should be open and transparent with decisions being taken in public and not in private meetings of the majority group. I also feel that Councillors should not sit on both BCC and SCTC as there is an obvious conflict of interests.
Neighbourhood planning would be a major benefit to the whole Town, Lichfield is a good example of what can be done when a council takes a positive approach. However, in Sutton this has been blocked at every turn. Maybe the problem is that BCC and many Councillors do not want to see neighbourhood plans implemented as it limits their flexibility. I have also noted that Rob Pocock who was a supporter 2 years ago is now not as vocal on the subject.
One can only hope that next year when new Councillors are elected for the Town and City we will see some changes. The Town Council should represent all residents and spend the precept on improving the town for their benefit. Currently they seem to be obsessed with not funding additional services for Sutton which fall within the BCC remit. As a result, we suffer with dirty streets, pot holes, limited facilities for the disabled etc. while the bulk of the precept sits in the bank. If they cannot spend it on services which the residents want maybe they should give us all a refund.
The Sutton Observer chose not to publish this letter this week and preferred Clare Horrocks’s rather poor letter in my opinion which does her no credit and picks on one aspect of a well measured letter by Councillor Long last week by launching a personalised attack.
Well, I also am not impressed with the attitude of the ‘Planning Committee’ towards ‘Neighbourhood Planning.’ In fact when I raised the subject at a planning meeting the Chair was extremely rude to me as a resident and conservative party member. (Not anymore – if they had bothered to send me a membership card I would have the pleasure of cutting it up but as they haven’t I can’t. No wonder the Conservative Party is shedding members hand over fist – too many of the executive are out of touch, and remote)
Did the Lichfield Councillors have specialised training on neighbourhood planning – I doubt it – like most people I am sure if they were unclear on a subject they sought advice. There are a number of planning officers in the town who offered their services to the Town Council for free and were turned down! This council prefers to waste money on unnecessary training, vanity projects and party political objectives. Roll on 2018, I feel it will be as much of a wake up call for SCCA as the General Election was for the National Party (Though they do not seem to have taken much notice.)