So, it was a welcome diversion that Mrs Zorro suggested that we attend today’s East Devon Alliance’s www.eastdevonalliance.org.uk “Time for a change” People’s Conference which was held in the wilds of deepest Honiton. It was interesting to mingle with the sizeable audience at the Conference and to be able to do so in anonymity.
There were a number of speakers who were able to share their experiences of operating in Conservative dominated local councils, at all levels – Town, District and County – and trying to bring challenge in what were often incredibly hostile environments.
The one clear message that came from each of the speakers to the Conference was that campaigning and delivering on issues that affect local residents was the key to gaining their trust and confidence at the ballot box. Indeed, it was clear that the major difference between those who have been elected as East Devon Alliance (EDA) representatives and those elected as Conservative representatives was that the latter were far more interested in appeasing developers, whilst EDA representatives saw their role to be to articulate the views of their constituents.
Particularly interesting were the presentations by:
Martin Shaw – EDA Devon County Councillor, Seaton & Colyford – who has been incredibly active in defending local hospital services;
David Daniel – who, amongst others has been heavily involved in developing and submitting EDA comments on policy matters that are subject to Government and House of Commons Select Committee public consultation;
Pam Barrett – an Independent Buckfastleigh Town Councillor – who, along with nine others in the Buckfastleigh Independent Group now are in the majority on that Town Council. Pam explained how even on a Town Council which has such a small annual budget, determined progressive councillors can effect real change for their community;
Claire Wright – currently an Independent Devon County Councillor, Otter Valley – who shared the, sometimes appalling, events and activities that she encountered not only from Conservative East Devon District (EDDC) councillors, and EDDC senior officers, when she was a District Councillor.
Mrs Zorro whispered to me that if the same misogynistic and bullying behaviour that these people directed towards Claire Wright www.claire-wright.org had been done to their wives, mothers, aunts, sisters, lovers then they would have been appalled. Frankly reader, we were appalled.
The underlying theme that cam from the contributions from all of the speakers and the audience was that the EDA is a political force that is growing in East Devon, is here to stay and will continue to take the challenge to the Conservatives whatever positions are up for public election.
The Conference was entitled “Time for a change”. Loyal readers of this blog will know that this is a rallying call that Zorro has been using for a number of years now. So, lets wish Godspeed to the EDA in its efforts to get their message heard, understood and supported by local residents.