I think we need to be clear that the current local
government crisis is not unique to West Berks but is a challenge facing
authorities across the entire country. This was always the writing on the wall
before the electorate made its choice – and the majority in our area chose that
Tory path and should be examining their consciences at a national as well as at
a local level. What we are seeing played out now is simply the end game of a
policy that the Conservative party made abundantly clear right from the
beginning.

What we face in West Berks is compounded by the perception
we have of our council. Being perceived as a body of incompetent self-servers
making knee jerk decisions, often behind closed doors, who habitually promote a
lack of transparency has not done any of them any favours now the chickens have
come home to roost. That incompetence isn’t new. Those behaviours did not
suddenly manifest themselves in 2016 but many councillors were returned with
the electorate’s mandate all the same.

What we need is for the Newbury Weekly News to serve its
community by conducting and publishing a simple interview with each elected
councillor answering two simple questions. 1) What cuts do you support? 2) What
cuts are you against? No dissembling. No Benyon-speak. Just a simple ‘I support
cuts in funding the disabled / the elderly / libraries / the arts. I am opposed
to…(the same).

That way colours are nailed to masts. If your councillor (or
mine) supports kicking the disabled, isolating the elderly, closing your
library or hammering the Arts at least you will know and be able to act
accordingly.

Will this happen? I fear not. Some dedicated councillors
would no doubt embrace the opportunity. Most would not as very few of the
people we elected would be prepared to stand up and be counted whilst speaking in
plain English to their constituents.