It’s a washout
The experiment with democracy at all levels and in all places within our country is not proving a huge success. The Brexit referendum may have had a high turnout, but given where we are today that does not feel like a huge success. So perhaps it is not surprising that faith in the democratic process sometimes looks as if it is evaporating.
In Somerset it is no different. Why vote in County Council elections if the funding for your council is, in part, (yes I know SCC carry some of the blame too) dictated from Westminster? Of course you will say but Westminster politicians are elected. Yes they are, so why bother electing another bunch in Somerset who have very little power at all when the chips are down. Is it not just a smokescreen for the fact that actually the real decisions are made elsewhere.
The latest experiment with democracy has been the creation of Neighbourhood Plans. The idea is that local people should have more control over the way their built environment looks on a town by town basis. The trouble is we also had something called a local plan that was supposed to do much the same on a District by District level. The reality is that Westminster emasculates the Local Plan and sticks two fingers up to local people, when the plan does not deliver the things that they (not us) actually want.
Burnham says Yes (ish)
The people of Burnham on Sea have recently been asked to vote on a bizarrely complex and hugely overworked Neighbourhood Plan. Written in planner speak and running to the sort of length that makes War and Piece look like a short story, the Neighbourhood Plan has to be endorsed by the population before it can be adopted. Interestingly there is no minimum turnout requirement. If just 3 people voted and 2 voted in favour, it would be adopted.
That did not happen. But it might as well have done.
The results announced this morning were:
In Favour 2,658
That represents a turnout of just 17.6%. It maybe a lack of interest. It may be that in Somerset at least people are starting to recognise that these experiments in localism will simply be ridden over roughshod whenever Westminster finds them to be inconvenient.