Paying the price

Graham Cooper was right last week (“Whose mandate?”, Opinion, November 15) to highlight the weaknesses of our “democratic” system of local government, where a minority of voters elect a massive majority of councillors of one party.

In local elections it should not be the party candidate that people instinctively vote for, but the best man or woman for the job.

It is worth pointing out, however, that even our defective electoral system does return some majority councillors who think for themselves and represent the best interests of their community in defiance of the party leadership.

Sid Vale councillors Stuart Hughes and Graham Troman are good examples.

They both proposed that the extravagant plans to move the council HQ should be put on hold, and asked embarrassing questions about how a 12.5-acre business park suddenly appeared in the Local Plan.

They both pressed for a scrutiny committee investigation into the council’s controversial relations with the East Devon Business Forum.

It has cost them dearly. Graham Troman’s dogged attempts to keep the investigation committee working appear to have been obstructed at every turn.

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Stuart Hughes was removed as chairman of the scrutiny committee by the leader of the council, whose leadership he blasted in the Herald on May 17 this year as ‘arrogant and spineless’.

Marianne Rixson

(via email)