For years Plymouth City Council has been run by consecutive Tory and Labour led disasters and without a new party little seems about to change. Unfortunately there is a huge amount of apathy within the voting public and many people either don't vote at all or vote tactically i.e. they vote Conservative to kick out Labour and vice versa.
Unless you have an extremely poor memory then you will no doubt be aware of the years of bad decisions which have left Plymouth as a glorified dumping ground with poor infrastructure and no real opportunity for improvement. Anyway, here is a brief summary of what I believe to be some of the horrendous decisions made by Plymouth City Council over the past few decades:
The building of an incinerator in a heavily populated area using outdated German technology when far better alternatives were available.
The closure of Plymouth Airport and the accompanying wrangling between P.C.C and Sutton Harbour Holdings (there is still reported to be large amount of money that appears unaccounted for).
The construction of the Life Centre, a gigantic monstrousity that cost the people of Plymouth £46.5 million in a time of recession.
The general failure to promote Plymouth as a tourist destination and a general neglect of our amazing waterfront.
Bretonside Bus Station (need I say more).
Failure to promote and protect the legacy of some of Plymouth's great artists Robert Lenkiwicz and Beryl Cooke.
Highways, Highways, Highways - After P.C.C awarded a 25 year contract to Amey we have seen a continuing deterioration in the quality of our roads as well as an apparent war on motorists, The numerous installation of unnecessary traffic lights and signage that bring Plymouth's roads to a standstill despite a lack of traffic (wait for the comgestion charge to be introduced!), Gdynia Way (again need I say more), bus lane camera fines, camera cars, increased parking charges which have a detrimental effect on local businesses, over-selling of residential parking permits, the list just goes on and on and oh did I mention the potholes?
The closure of Welby Residential Unit which was a big mistake in my humble opinion and there is a huge lack of services for adult learning disabilities within the city.
A poor planning approach to the city centre which has resulted in the Mall killing trade in the west end and causing traffic chaos on the main roads coming into our city.
Failure to protect the Old Palace Theatre aka the Dance Academy.
Let's not forget Vivien Pengelly's tax payer funded trip to the South Africa World Cup either.
I could go on but I think you get the general impression and for most Plymouth people they are already more than aware of the problems our city faces.
It seems that PCC, much like national government and large businesses have forgotten about customer service or looking after the people who pay them; we have seen cut after cut to frontline services but no cuts for council leaders or senior executives.
You only have to pick up the Herald newpaper and read the your say pages to realise how unsatisfied the people of Plymouth really are, so what can we do?
In 2010 I took the decision to stand for council, I had no idea what I was doing but I waded in blindly anyway. I did not get many votes but it was nice to understand a little bit more about how the system works and it has helped me draw up some conclusions.
1. Standing as an Independent for a local election on the same day as a national election is not a wise idea, there is simply too much tactical voting going on for any independent to stand a chance.
2. Standing as an Independent is really hard. I did leaflet every single house that I could access but it is seemingly impossible to get your points and views across in 1 leaflet. The few people who did answer their doors were fairly receptive but most people did not want to chat and i don;t blame them, I hate it when strangers knock on my door.
As an Independent I had no help (apart from my lovely Mum) to help me canvas and generally people are just reluctant to vote for an Independent with no previous political history. Add to this the fact that I was bad-mouthed by several canvassers from one of the main political parties who used, and twisted, the fact that I am a pole dancing instructor to somehow sway people into the belief that I was some kind of demonic lap dancing whore.
Having tried and failed as an Independent I still feel passionately about Plymouth and don't want to see another 10-20 years of failing tory/labour councils who will continue to turn Plymouth into a bin for Britain so I propose another option:
How about a Plymouth Party where local people can be truly represented by local candidates who put the needs of Plymouth residents first and leave aside party politics and EU nonsense. Surely it is a common sense approach, who knows maybe we could even end up with Plymouth as it's own Republic!! OK, so one step at a time.
I have set up a facebook group for those interested and have a separate blog page which I can adapt for this purpose as we get more interest. If you are interested in becoming part of a new non-political party for Plymouth either as a candidate or simply as a supporter just contact me direct or join the facebook group.