YP Letters: When local democracy is just a sham

Should voters know more about local election candidates?
Should voters know more about local election candidates?
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From: Chris Heyes, Kirby Hill, Boroughbridge, York.

I DESPAIR at our so-called democracy. I visited the polling booth on May 3 and was presented with a binary choice – a local sitting Tory candidate and a Labour ‘paper’ candidate, the latter not even living in the ward.

No-one canvassed my vote. No-one knocked on the door. There were no campaigns or even posters. A one-page ‘self-promotion’ leaflet for the local Tory candidate came through the door – very few policy specifics, mainly high-level unimaginative ‘babble’. The other candidate didn’t even bother. Before I went through the door of the polling station, I knew the outcome anyway – I suspect so did the Labour candidate.

All ‘democratic’ window-dressing. Turnout was low at 36.94 per cent – interesting that the Tories recently introduced a law saying trade union ballots were only legitimate with 50 per cent or more members voting. Why not elected officials governing our country?

The Tories within our local government here have no real opposition which probably explains the following:

Local library – now run by volunteers; public transport – almost non-existent; police – never seen any bobbies on the beat here; garden refuse – charges imposed; council tax – rising; street lights – switched off; housing – lots of new (expensive) houses, yet no uplift in doctors, roads, schools etc.

I’m sure there’s more. May 3 was nothing more than an illusion of democracy, at least in my ward. I protested about the state of our democracy to the sitting Tory MP some time ago. His joking response? “Can’t you just spoil your ballot paper like everyone else?”

Why bother when you get a sham like May 3? It hardly screams a thriving and vibrant democracy, does it?

From: Mrs Anne Spice, The Laurels, Gledhow, Leeds.

SO the council elections are over. I live in Gledhow so I cast my vote in the Roundhay ward, but I didn’t know who to vote for. Why? A complete absence of information regarding the candidates and what they stood for. I know more about Paddington Bear, but sadly his name wasn’t on the ballot paper.

From: Coun Tim Mickleburgh (Lab), Boulevard Avenue, Grimsby.

BEING ferried around by car during the recent local elections made me realise more than ever just how much a disadvantage it is not to drive. Yet millions are forced to use public transport every day. They will go by train, as I recall from my Hebden Bridge days, while we’ve got to build more tramway networks, perhaps in every urban area with a population of 100,000 plus. Other than bringing back conductors, I can’t see what could be done to make the bus a realistic alternative to those who possess a motor of their own.

Bill to protect consumers

From: Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton.

IT’S great news that a Bill to cap energy prices has passed through the House of Commons and is expected to become law before next winter. It will mean that consumers will be protected from excessive energy bills until 2020, at least, with an option to extend the cap annually until 2023. I know that high energy bills are a big concern for many people, particularly people on low incomes, so I was delighted to support this measure whilst the Government looks for a long-term solution.

It is clear that the energy market does not work for consumers. Those who shop around and switch suppliers can save as much as £300 each year but energy bills still remain too high for millions of households.

Those who don’t switch remain on standard variable tariffs, in effect subsidising those who do switch and propping up the profit margins for the worst offending suppliers. What’s more these customers are often from vulnerable groups who really can’t afford the inflated prices.

Ofgem has already introduced a safeguard tariff cap on pre-payment meters, saving five million of the most vulnerable customers an average £60 each year.

This Bill will build on that by putting an absolute cap on default standard variable energy tariffs by the end of the year so that the 11 million households on these rip-off tariffs can feel the benefits this winter. Strong competition is the best way to protect the interests of consumers and this Bill is part of larger efforts to reform the energy market.

I believe that this gives more power to consumers, increases competition through the rollout of smart meters and makes switching suppliers quicker and easier for everyone.

£5m nursery rhymes folly

From: Mr GI Simpkin, Downe Street, Driffield.

I THINK it nonsense to award £5m to teach parents nursery rhymes. Encourage them to mix in their local environment and use standard English and dialect English. They will also learn street language.

Do we not trial IT systems?

From: A Hague, Bellbrooke Grove, Harehills, Leeds.

REGARDING the TSB new computer system breakdown, I can’t understand how such failures happen. I thought new devices were tested and given trials before being carried out yet.

Fighting a losing battle

From: B Murray, Halifax Road, Sheffield.

IF rap songs are advocating bloodshed, and the media are bombarding our youngsters 
with violence, what chance have the police of solving violence on the streets?