The correspondence in these columns on the lack of democracy within the Town Council fails to address the ‘elephant in the room’ regarding the real issues facing Marlborough and its council.
As David Sherratt observes, the core of the problem is the fact that there are no Councillors elected by the community. New members are selected and this has allowed entrenched individuals to shape the incoming members in their own image and sift out potential contrary debate to their own agendas. This is a very real issue of both anti-democracy and self-interest and the cripplingly antiquated function that resides behind a veneer of respectability. One needs to look no further than this for a reason why good volunteers are not coming forward to represent the community.
To be a town councillor requires passion and intelligence supported by values that are reflected in the seven Nolan principles by which all in public service are meant to abide – selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership. It may be a volunteer role, but it is not enough just to turn up, drink the tea and chip in a few personal opinions. Councillors need to be really identifiable, elected champions of their community and be prepared to stand up to bad practice wherever it is found.
Until legitimate elections can be restored to the Town Council, it will continue to deter able volunteers who have the necessary skills to help carry Marlborough forward. Until then, it will remain stuck where it is today – a very expensive anachronism manipulated by an unrepresentative few.