It was great to see the article by our MP, Nigel Evans, in the Advertiser last week, echoing the sentiments of lots of local residents with regard to the core strategy and proposed housing development within the Ribble Valley.
However these comments are long overdue, three to four years minimum, by my reckoning. This is precisely the action the local residents should have expected from their MP within the Westminster bubble.
Make no mistake, local residents and local authorities have very little influence over this process, no matter how hard they try to get their voices heard.
Let us not forget the Localism Bill and all that Eric Pickles promised: “The Localism Bill will put an end to the hoarding of power within central government and top-down control of communities, allowing local people the freedom to run their lives and neighbourhoods in their own way. The Bill, laid before Parliament today, contains a radical package of reforms that will devolve greater power and freedoms to councils and neighborhoods, establish powerful new rights for communities, revolutionize the planning system, and give communities control over housing decisions.”
Rhetoric and falsehoods that show the out-of-touch reality that politicians live in and the total disdain with which they treat the general population. It’s a bit like the David Cameron rhetoric when talking about austerity measures of “we are all in this together”. This clearly couldn’t be further from the truth.
The only way communities and local authorities could have had any impact on a governmental imposed housing programme is by representation in Parliament. There is, and has been, no transparency from Mr Evans on just how he has tackled this issue from its inset, within the timeframe of challenging this process all those years ago, when this policy was coming to light and in its infancy or how he has challenged the Localism Bill and its failure.
Mr Evans has turned up to loads of photoshoot opportunities regarding proposed development over the past two years, being empathetic to the rallying call of angry residents. I do generally believe he is personally opposed to them. But the question remains, what has he done as our MP to up the ante of this issue within his Conservative ranks? Any action he has taken within the past two years has been virtually pointless in stopping this oil tanker of a policy. It is about being proactive not reactive.
If you were a cynical person it could lead you to two conclusions.
Firstly it could appear Mr Evans has developed a clever strategy over the past five years to preserve his status as MP for Ribble Valley. On the surface it could appears Mr Evans is doing an excellent job of appearing to listen and agree with the concerns of his constituents with regard to new proposed development, yet over the years not making any waves within the Conservative Party by not addressing these issues forthrightly enough with his political masters. As a consequence his status as MP and Deputy Speaker were not brought into question.
Secondly it could question the job Mr Evans is being paid for, as our MP – is he being negligent in his role as our MP, representing the Ribble Valley?
It is certainly time for transparency and Mr Evans needs to establish just what he has been doing with his time in Westminster and that way he will be able to demonstrate to his constituents exactly what kind of job he has been doing. I undertook a very small survey of people and asked them could they name Mr Evans’ top five achievements for the Ribble Valley, as he has been our MP for over 21 years?
No-one could name one, let alone five, apart from becoming the Deputy Speaker – not undermining this personal achievement; I am not sure how this has helped him to represent his constituency though? This sample is no way representative of the Ribble Valley, however it does highlight a major concern. What is our MP doing for us?
Mr Evans could be doing a great job for the Ribble Valley, however my small sample of his top five achievements would possibly suggest otherwise. The only way for Mr Evans to address these fears is by showing his proactive actions, implementing greater transparency and some communication skills.