With the local elections just seven weeks away, we are entering a period of purdah which brings certain restrictions to political comment. One aspect of which is that I cannot write in my capacity as Leader of the Council during this period and as I have decided not to seek re-election, this week will be my final column for the paper. I would like to thank The Eastbourne Herald for allowing me to comment on local issues over the past years. In an age where statements made on social media are so often taken to be fact, even when they are totally inaccurate, I believe that local newspapers have become more important than ever.
I consider it to have been a real privilege to have been Leader of the Borough Council for the past 16 years, and 19 years in total. I believe passionately that decisions should be taken as closely to the people who will be impacted by them as possible. The UK is one of the most centralised countries in Europe. A massive 94% of all public expenditure is made at national level, with only 6% being made by local authorities, yet it is so often the services they provide which are the most valued by residents. Indeed during the pandemic, it was local councils who worked with local businesses and voluntary groups to support the vulnerable, whilst what was taking place at a national level appeared chaotic.
A strong turnout in the local elections on 4 May will demonstrate the importance that residents give to local decision making. If you are intending to vote in person, please remember that for the first time this election the Government are insisting that you bring photo identity with you, and if you don’t, you will not be able to vote. I will be continuing in my role as a County Councillor and wish my successor at the Borough Council every success with the challenges ahead. Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read my column.
My best wishes for the future.