It is now almost three weeks after the election, and I would like to share what positive actions and approaches I have already taken in response to three specific problems – both old and new – for our town:
The Lib Dem Mayor, Dave Hodgson, failed to offer the Conservative Group a single seat in his Executive, despite the fact that we are the largest Group across the Borough, and many more people voted for us than his Lib Dem candidates. Across Borough and Town Councillor elections throughout Kempston, the Conservatives received 15,557 votes; the Lib Dems received just 1,787. This is plainly undemocratic, and could lead to another four years of Kempston being a forgotten neighbour of Bedford.
- Kempston now has representation in terms of scrutiny of that Executive, as I have already taken on additional responsibilities to join the Budget Scrutiny Committee and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee.
- I will be organising a series of petitions to put extra pressure on the Executive in securing a better deal for Kempston. If they won’t listen to the peoples’ wishes, we will just have to shout a bit louder! I have already started one petition, and will begin another one soon.
- Fundamentally, I won’t make ‘being in Opposition’ an excuse for not getting things done in Kempston – we will work and fight where necessary to get a better deal for Kempston.
The majority of decision-making regarding the proposed sale of the Saxon Centre to a Joint Venture has happened behind closed doors, and the plans are both unclear and new for the people of Kempston.
- The other night, I made sure I sat on the Working Group determining what would be proposed for discussion at the Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee – through this, I have opened up discussion of the Saxon Centre deal to the first Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee following the election.
- Fundamentally, I don’t buy any excuses for making these discussions private and hidden, and have already pushed for public scrutiny of the decisions being made.
Kempston is still dominated by Labour representation, both at Borough Council and Town/Parish Council level. Although I was able to break through the Labour monopoly at Borough level, and Richard Hyde and David Clarke were able to do the same at Town Council level, Kempston is still dominated by a deeply political strand of Labour. Therefore the majority of people who have presided over Kempston’s becoming a forgotten neighbour of Bedford are still in place.
- I will work with the more conscientious and effective Labour Councillors who genuinely put effort into representing their local area, finding cross-party unity where possible.
- I will hold the rest of them to account, as I have already begun doing by visiting the Town Council’s annual meeting last week to scrutinise expenditure plans on behalf of Kempston’s taxpayers – they didn’t like the new added scrutiny, and some of them took particular offence when I pointed out obvious savings.
- Fundamentally, I will fight for value for money at all levels on behalf of Kempston’s taxpayers – Labour can work with me or against me on that.
As I hope you can see from this list, I have already been quite busy getting stuck in on behalf of Kempston’s taxpayers. I will continue to do so for the remainder of the four years you have given me to serve our area, and will continue fighting for Kempston across the board!