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Councillor Blog - Martin Barker - March 2019

Author: Cllr Martin Barker Published: 4th March 2019 15:53

In his latest blog for AboutMyArea, Martin Barker, ward councillor for Parkgate on Cheshire West and Chester Council and Neston Town Council, talks about why being politically independent is important to him.

Cllr Martin BarkerCllr Martin Barker. Photo by Bernard Rose

As an independent councillor, I am not usually preoccupied with what is happening in national politics. I prefer to concentrate on what needs doing locally, and there is plenty to do - such as getting planters in place in time for the growing season and ditches cleared on the marsh to reduce the nuisance from mosquitoes.

On this last point, many of you will have seen the national news item about the decline in the insect population around the world - which is a genuine concern; but we would settle for a reduction in one particular insect in the Parkgate area!

But my attention was attracted to the national scene not so much by the news about insect population, but rather by the behaviour of the political population at Westminster - and the growing sense that the political parties have failed. That seems to be why some MPs are now sitting as independents, so that they are free to tackle key issues based on conscience and personal judgement rather than following a strict party line.

That resonated with my own experience and my reasons for standing as an independent back in 2015. It is also reflected in my experience of chairing the Cheshire West and Chester Overview and Scrutiny Committee, in which I must judge issues pragmatically and not according to a predetermined party script.

In so many aspects of life people expect to be able to have a solution that suits them rather than one that has been decided elsewhere. In healthcare, holidays, food, travel and clothing - to give just a few examples - people want to make a personal judgement and choice. Big institutions such as the NHS, supermarkets, travel agents and department stores have had to adapt, and perhaps political parties will have to do the same and allow elected representatives greater freedom to respond to issues as they arise.

For me, the issue is always to judge what is the most useful thing to do to meet the needs of the people I represent - so that politics is about effectiveness rather than ideology. I think this is particularly important in local politics.

But such decisions are not easy and the important thing for me is to achieve a balance. This can be seen in the issue of the visitor economy in Parkgate. It is important for businesses and the health of the local economy that Parkgate is attractive to visitors, but that cannot be at the cost of local people enjoying their area in peace and comfort. Likewise, in travel and transport where most people use cars - so our roads must be of good quality and parking well managed. But other people either don't have access to a car or prefer not to use one, so public transport must also be considered as important. A balance between the two provides maximum flexibility and avoids congestion and parking problems.

There are few easy answers in politics or in life generally, but a sense of compromise and reasonableness goes a long way to finding a way forward that suits most people. The increasingly ideological approaches adopted by political parties seem to me to be divisive and - worst of all - completely ineffective. That is why I have enjoyed my time as an independent councillor and hope to continue to do so.

 

Councillor Martin Barker

martin.barker@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk
Phone 07583 067175
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Comments

Denno
At 10:09 on 7th March 2019, Denno commented:

Well said Cllr.Martin but the problem with compromise is that the decision made suits no one.
Novak
At 14:25 on 8th March 2019, Novak commented:
Well said martin. Will be thrilled to vote for you again in the May elections. You've done wonders for Parkgate. A Cllr who actually cares and doesn't toe the party politics line. Refreshing!!
Tony
At 17:03 on 8th March 2019, Tony commented:
Could not agree more with the last comment. Ever thought of standing as MP Martin? You'd have my vote.
Mr Duff
At 13:27 on 18th March 2019, Mr Duff commented:
Brilliant stuff. Martin is a great guy and has been wonderful for Parkgate & Neston even before he was a councillor. I will ensure I tell enough people about his commitment to the local area, and be supporting him all the way. Best of luck Martin!!
Grumpy.Old.Git
At 19:35 on 18th March 2019, Grumpy.Old.Git commented:
Yes even I voted for you, specifically because of your independence
??
undefined
At 09:11 on 24th March 2019, undefined commented:
Hi Martin

Before the local council elections in May this year I and some of my neighbours in the looms area of Parkgate wish to ask you to go on record as to how you would stand regarding the building of houses on the Marsh nurseries site off boathouse lane.

Your answer will determine how we vote.

I will be asking Steve Wastell (the conservative candidate for Parkgate ward) the same question.
CO Jones
At 14:15 on 24th March 2019, CO Jones commented:
Hi Undefined, Do you mean on the old Nursery Buildings area which would be considered brownfield land or on the fields adjoining which is green belt?

Or do you mean development full stop and allow the area to fall into disrepair and get trashed by folk in the school holidays?

It is probably worth clarifying.
undefined
At 11:10 on 26th March 2019, undefined commented:
Hi CO Jones,

Yes it is worth clarifying. Perhaps Cllr Barker could answer if he is for or against building on the supposedly "brown field" site of the old nursery AND the greenbelt fields off Boathouse lane which surround the site.

Very important elections coming up, eager to know what Cllr Martin Barker thinks about this issue.
Carrie Spacey
At 11:23 on 26th March 2019, Carrie Spacey responded:
@undefined - you may or may not be aware, but ahead of any elections there is a period known as 'purdah' during which any sitting councillor (or MP for that matter), is discouraged from entering into public debate in the media on specific issues that could affect the outcome of an election. In relation to the May 2 elections, that has now kicked in. For that reason, I am advised that Cllr Barker is happy to exchange emails with you on the subject, but is not able to comment on this thread at this time. If you would like to contact him, please email martin.barker@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk.
undefined
At 10:41 on 30th March 2019, undefined commented:
Hi Carrie,

Thanks for your response, purdah seems interesting and a confusing concept! Perhaps Cllr Barker could address the issue of protecting greenbelt within the Parkgate ward on his April blog or through his manifesto? Or is this still under the jurisdiction of purdah?

I appreciate that I can email Martin direct and (I have done in the past) but this issue needs a public response.
Carrie Spacey
At 12:27 on 30th March 2019, Carrie Spacey responded:
All candidates standing for the council elections in contested seats will be invited to submit a statement for publication (simultaneously and to a maximum number of words) closer to the election date. We will not publish any more blogs until after the election. This has been our policy since we launched in 2008.
Dave Carter
At 11:07 on 3rd April 2019, Dave Carter commented:
Here is a useful link on what Purdah does and does not prevent:

https://www.local.gov.uk/our-support/purdah/frequently-asked-questions

My reading is that a sitting councillor, as with any other candidate, can issue press releases, write to media, tweet or blog, or engage in debates, in person or online, so long as they do not use council resources to do so.
undefined
At 11:48 on 12th April 2019, undefined commented:
I have viewed Martins manifesto and it states

"Protect greenbelt land in the area from development"
Mr Duff
At 14:18 on 15th April 2019, Mr Duff commented:
A copy of Martins manifesto dropped through my door over the weekend. An absolute no-brainer to vote for him. Hopefully enough people get up and out on the 2nd of May so we can re-elect Martin again.

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