Jul 08

The Strange World of Local Politics

During the past few days I have begun to think that I must be living in some strange parallel universe which is devoid of of decency and any political integrity.  It is not a world I feel comfortable in.

I have this week been the subject of two complaints to the Head of Central Administration [he is in charge of making sure Councillors behave in a ‘proper’ way] at the Council from Cllr Benson.

The first was that the consultation letter I sent out to residents in the streets that Cllr Benson had thought might benefit from weekly sack waste collections was dated before the cabinet papers were public, though delivered on the day of publication. There was also a question of whether I was mis-using public money to write to residents to find out their views.

FACTCHECK: It is current Council policy to consult residents in the streets identified because the coalition approved a report at a Cabinet meeting in April when they were in control to consult residents.  They did not carry out that consultation.  We agreed that we should honour the promise.  This is a proper consultation and we will publish and act on the results.  I hand delivered the 350 letters myself to save the Council the cost of postage.

The second complaint was that I spoke to a group of parents at Redlands Schools about our plans to propose that the University/Hospital Study area be extended to include the area around the school so that we could take a really comprehensive look at the traffic, safety and parking issues in the area.  I explained our plans to engage in meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders to scope the problem and work out solutions.  I told them that we hoped to involve already established groups such as the Neighbourhood Action Group as well as finding new ways to invove residents.  Cllr Bensons complaint was that I had been briefed ahead of her about plans and that I had broken some protocol of a committee that I have never attended and was set-up before I was elected.

FACTCHECK:  Labour is the democratically elected Administration in control of Reading, as a Ward Councillor I have every right to talk to residents and community groups about our ideas to find out if they think they are worth pursuing. To find out views and opinions. I will continue to do so in an open and inclusive way.

I do not apologise for either of these actions.  I will continue to talk to anyone and everyone who wants to engage with how we run this town, anyone who has an idea or a suggestion.

I do not know what the outcome of these complaints will be but the really wierd thing about it is that today on The Redlands Lib Dem website they are claiming a victory for getting the study area extended and for the program of public engagement which I apparently shouldn’t have been talking to residents about.


  1. Oranjepan

    Having read the other side of the this it seems you’re not actually answering the questions posed.

    Also, can I point out that there’s a difference between ‘fact-giving’ and ‘fact-checking’ – since you’re providing the facts here, how is that providing any check of them?

    1. jan


      I am not sure what the questions are that I am not answering, please help me out with this … where did you read the ‘other side’? I would like to see the details of the complaints made against me .. fascinating you seem to know what they are!

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