Thursday, 11 April 2013

Thoughts from the Penzance doorstep, what people want to see changed

After spending the last couple of weeks speaking to people on the doorstep, I though I'd highlight what people are talking about and what they think Cornwall Council and Penzance Town Council can do to make things better for the people like them. I live in the division and I spend a lot of time in it, my kids go school here, I have friends here, even my dentist is within 2 minutes walk from my house. Anyone that knows me, will know I'm a friendly guy and I like nothing more than a good chat and I have time to talk to anyone. I had this notion that I really understood the people of Penzance East, that I know people here and have a good grasp of what politics ought to be offering people. I was pleasantly surprised that I don't have all the answers, my leaflet does not cover all the issues people care about. Something I've learnt over and over again in life is that you learn more when you listen then when you talk.

One of the things I have always thought about politics is that, politicians are out of touch. As the Mebyon Kernow manifesto seeks to address there is a lack of faith by people in politics and indeed in politicians. As
Cliched Cornish electoral hopeful eating a pasty pic
my late Grandmother used to say 'They don't know and they won't be told'. Politics is all about messages these days, politicians are obsessed with it, how many times have you heard cliched phrases like "the message we're sending to the electorate...", "the government is sending a clear message...". I'm not saying I'm not guilty of this, I could preface this blog with the words: "the message I'm sending to the people of Penzance East is that Rob Simmons is listening to your concerns." (Now isn't that a cliched leaflet-worthy phrase!) Anyway irony aside, my point is that politics at the moment is about messages, it's about explaining to the electorate why your ideas are better than your rivals. But this isn't the way it should be, politicians are and ought to be servants of the people, paid by them and working for them. If I hire, say a plumber to do work in my house, I'd expect them to listen to me, if they didn't I'd probably find another one. This is what politicians forget. I will continue to listen to people on the doorstep in this election campaign and the problems they face and I'll write about them in a series of blog posts.

However, there are a number of concerns I couldn't address if elected as a councilor, some because they have already happened and others are well outside the power and influence of the position. Here's some of the highlights, ones I most agree with, as I remember them not direct quotes:

"That Duke of Cornwall makes a fortune from us, he ought be paying to subsidise the Isles of Scilly link."

"They never should have filled in the harbour and made a car park."

"What on earth does Penzance want with another out of town supermarket." (Sainsburys)

"What do these people know about roads? Why do they think we need more roundabouts on the A30." (again Sainsburys, not found 1 person that wants it yet)

"Penzance never should have turned away the university."

"Why am I being penalised by bedroom tax, when there's no smaller properties to move into."

"Penzance doesn't need Cameron to come here and tell us what to do to help the economy, he's making enough of a mess up the line."

"If you're a Tory, I don't want to know. Or if you're a Lib Dem."

"Are you really the candidate? but you're so young." (still smile about that one, I'm 32! yay)

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