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Democracy: a Naïve Hope?

by Village Resident – 31st March 2016
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Dear Editor,

I read your open letter to AVDC expressing alarm at the manner in which they are ignoring the opinions and wishes of the villagers of Haddenham in respect of its further enlargement. I fear however that as well as AVDC being out of touch with the opinions and wishes of the Haddenham council tax payers, that many in the village are equally out of touch with changes in our governance that have been incrementally implemented over the past few decades to the detriment of the general population.

We must wake up to those changes. AVDC are doing exactly what their bosses want. We the voters are not their bosses any longer.

It is generally perceived that voters choose their representatives on various local and national governmental bodies, and that those representatives are honour-bound to put their constituents' best interests forward. Thus giving rise to the idea that if we the voters do not like what is happening, then we can take the next opportunity to "vote the scoundrels out of office".

However some of us have noticed that it matters not one jot which party or grouping are nominally in power, many of the same proposals for action continue regardless. One can easily see examples of this at both national and local level. When challenged, the relevant "representative" is all too keen to explain why it can be no other way. They will tell us that we
should be very pleased that our elected representatives know how and when to ignore our expressed wishes in favour of having our "best interests" imposed on us by those who know better.

At this point, I must declare an interest; my father was a whole working life civil servant and I "had the chance" to listen to a few tales of what went on in the office. It was such tales as how the department's civil servants treated Edward Heath when he was President of the Board of Trade (1963-64) which led me to conclude that at national level the civil service already knew in 1964 that they, not the politicians, were actually in charge.

The incident that really stuck with me was when Heath was being deliberately ignored by his senior civil servants, leading him to remark that he "hadn't been moved on yet". But generally, mockery of "inept and stupid" politicians was rife and considered good form. No difference between party, they should all be put out to grass and the government of the country be left to those who "knew how to do it properly".

In what seems to have been an attempt to woo voters in local elections to vote for the party in national government, local councils have been given slowly increasing amounts of central government funding. Previously all a council's money had been raised locally, after all it was for the funding of local services that had been largely decided upon by local voters. These days such a large proportion of local government funding is by subvention from national government that the council lives in constant fear of losing various grants by virtue of not complying with national government requirements.

Is there not some old saying that "he who pays the piper calls the tune"?

I believe that the recent and current actions of AVDC in the housing development sphere are in part dictated by the need to preserve a specific and large national government grant. It seems to me that local government these days is nothing more than a collection of contracted service delivery agents for national government which actually makes all the decisions.

I am not suggesting that there has been a vast conspiracy. But I would ask this question: "If there actually had been a vast conspiracy to silently subvert the government of this land, how could it have been any different from what we have today, and its current direction of travel?"

There needs to be a radical reform of our governance that inter alia prevents people from making a career out of it. Public service should involve serving the public; not imposing rules and controls on the citizens.

In the meantime, what we see is what we will continue to get. AVDC will continue to give the go-ahead to every developer. There are national government targets to be met, as well as planning fees and Section 106 payments ("Planning Gain" "contributions") to be collected. How can AVDC
lose by granting planning permission left right and centre?

For them it is win, win, win all the way. They only have themselves to think of, the destruction of the Haddenham that we know is merely a rounding error.
Voters? Pfft....

Yours sincerely

Haddenham Resident
(Name and Address Supplied)

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