A heathy democracy depends on MP’s being accessible to their constituents and to be fair both of the Conservative MP’s who have represented me in Surrey and Monmouthshire, despite the fact I have never voted for them, have corresponded with me over the years.
When Debbie and I moved to Thorpe village in Runneymede we were ecstatic to move to a large four bedroom detached home called Kent House in what could only be described as a quasi-countryside retreat on the outskirts of Staines and Chertsey. We fell in love with the chocolate box cottages, Frank Muir’s field and overlooked its proximity to the M25/M3 motorways and the Heathrow flightpath.
Of course this meant it was very convenient for me for work as it was only a 3 mile drive to Egham where Gartner’s European HQ was based in the Glanty and on my frequent trips necessitating taking a flight meant that I could get home on my return quickly. Alas the latter advantage was somewhat diluted due to constant delays from congestion at the airport and the noise and air pollution.
The first issue I contacted “Philip” about was over Surrey County Council’s inability to take seriously a fire risk to Kent House due to several conifers growing on a strip of land they owned adjacent to my double length attached garage. The gutters were completely full of detritus from the trees which overhung the garage roof with their branches.
Surrey CC was liable but replied to my letters of complaint with the response “they had no budget available” for such redial work that financial year even though they owned the strip of land and were responsible for its upkeep!
A strongly worded email to my MP cc the council seemed to work a treat and in the first instance they came and lopped down about 8 conifers down to stump level and the following year actually removed the stumps and landscaped the strip. Result!
My next interaction with Philip came with the government announcement that Heathrow expansion was going to be decided imminently despite protestations by local people including those he was supposed to represent. I sent him an email saying how much pollution had increased since we’d moved to Thorpe as the airport traffic had increased so much.
Alas in reply this time I got a weaselly worded reply that “he had made his views clear over many years and that he also had to think about the national interest”. Translated that mean he wanted the Chancellor’s job, a position he achieved soon afterwards… Ho hum!
Escaping to Wales I thought little about my new local MP David Davies until history repeated itself when Monmouthshire County Council launched a “consultation” to impose charges on the free car park in Abergavenny used by dog walkers in Castle Meadows (including yours truly most days) and of course by the workers in the town’s shops and offices none of whom are paid a fortune.
The consultation involved writing to the council’s Chief Operating Officer who’s primary responsibility I translated to “Chief Revenue Officer” so I made my objections by email copying my MP! I noticed that he then responded back to the COO cc myself insisting that my views along with many others be taken seriously.
Subsequently and much to my amazement all plans were dropped and the status quo maintained. Result!
Sadly the following events confirmed to me that indeed “history does repeat itself” when I grew frustrated after giving the Conservatives the benefit of the doubt at the local government elections by voting for the for them for first time ever in my 58 years…
What caused my angst was the Conservative party manifesto on social care costs aka “the dementia tax” being introduced along with means testing pensioner benefits. Added to this was the increases in Student loan principals and interest rates coming in for the new academic year and the continued funding through government debt of the foreign aid budget.
An email duly was sent with the following weaselly reply “that all political parties supported the continuation of the 0.7% GDP commitment to foreign aid even if this would not be a personal priority for myself”.
Then my concerns over yesterday’s announcement of the increase by a year for young people to receive the state pension on the last day of Parliament before the summer recess (no doubt to bury bad news) was responded today with the fact “that I am affected too and the country can’t afford the status quo” although I had to point out in reply that he wouldn’t be affected due to the MP final salary pension scheme being one of the most generous in the UK… Ho hum!
So in summary, if you want to use your MP to attack unfair decisions being made by your local council go ahead, you’ll likely be well rewarded. 🙂
If you want them to fight for you on a national cause – forget it! 😦
Power to the people!