Friday, March 23, 2007

Listening to be heard

It was handbags at dawn between Fellgate and Hedworth ward councillors Paul Waggott and Steve Harrison in the Shields Gazette yesterday, and it indicates that there may be more media contretemps before the May 3rd election. Hijacking of media credit is not new in South Tyneside - recently Couns Brady and Gibson basked in the glow of a misleading headline whilst [Independent candidate] Steve Pattison and his Friends of Temple Park did all the legwork to stop the development of the site's former caretaker's residence into a surgery.

So I can understand Coun Harrison's petulance at Coun Waggott's alleged press hijacking but the real point has been missed. Residents' concerns have finally begun to be addressed, and if it took the fear of losing Fellgate and Hedworth ward to the Independents to get things moving it shows that sometimes our electoral system does work.

What the voters will see though is two councillors fighting very publicly, when it's obvious they should have been working together, or at the very least talking to each other. It's apparent to anyone watching from the sidelines that it's partisan politics that's all that matters in South Tyneside, and particularly Fellgate and Hedworth, not consensus resolution for the benefit of residents.

While the sitting councillors are noisily sound biting each other in the press, apparently today the prospective Green Party candidate for Fellgate and Hedworth ward quietly collected nomination signatures and listened to residents concerns.

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