I have been away on holiday for the past two weeks, but have had the Sussex Express saved for me at my local shop.
Having just read through the letters in the past two editions, my attention was drawn to the correspondence over the Rampion Wind Farm from initially the new UKIP councillor for Ouse Valley East, Peter Charlton and latterly my district colleague and Lib Dem councillor for Ringmer, Peter Gardiner.
I have stayed silent following the election, not out of a feeling of ‘sour grapes’ over the result, but to see what wonderful new ideas the victorious candidates would announce.
I listened intently to an interview Nigel Farage gave to Radio 4 after the election, where he admitted that his Party had no real manifesto pledge for the local elections and was happy for any of his successful candidates to operate independent of it, being free to effectively ‘do what they liked’.
I find the new councillor’s comments, that he views the winning of the Windfarm contract by the Port (following the support of Newhaven and Lewes District’s strong support) as ‘not the answer’, as completely irrational.
In the run up to the election his literature and that of his Party colleagues, made scaremongering references to the immigration of Eastern Europeans to the country, along with other right-wing statements, in an effort to jump on the bandwagon of targeting any easy scapegoat as the cause of our problems.
I understand that at least one of the local successful UKIP councillors has already missed their first county council meeting, apparently unaware that they met during the working day and another was unsure as to what council he was actually elected to!
Over the next four years, we will see just how good they are and what they can and will do. I wonder whether they realize that as county councillors, they cannot: stop European legislation over immigration (this is done by national government, not county councils); reduce business rates at the same time as reducing council costs(the figures don’t add up); oil will not last forever and we need clean and renewable alternatives (oil has caused most of the wars in recent times, as well as what will almost certainly cause them in the future); the port is central to the regeneration of Newhaven and the surrounding area (therefore, Rampion and other similar projects are integral to its survival and that of its future) and last, but not least; they will be held to account by the electorate for the decisions they make over their term (although having not actually told us what they were actually going to do from the outset over things they can actually influence, gives them the benefit of starting with a blank canvas).
The picture they are painting so far, is both extreme and naive. I fear that with a hap-hazard team of councillors now in charge of many areas, with no direction and no real message to follow from their national leader, the outcome will be far from what the voters expect.