COLUMN: Council’s survey about spending taxpayers money is nothing more than self-congratulatory propaganda says Westwell of Ely

Rosemary Westwell

Rosemary Westwell - Credit: Archant

I don’t believe it! Once again East Cambridgeshire District Council has spent our taxpayers’ money sending households in the district self-congratulatory propaganda.

It is the guise of a survey claiming that this council has done all we asked. It claims to want to know our opinion, but what it is really doing is asking us to agree that they have done a wonderful job.

If our council members were trying to give us a true representation of what has happened all figures would be quoted - not just those that suit the propaganda.

In 2014, 6,443 people responded to a survey, but how many of our population did not respond?

The council has ‘run a successful campaign to build a bypass’, it says. Unfortunately, it forgets to mention the £13 million that has to be found because of bungling at the outset.

While the error may not be directly our council’s fault, it is an important part of what is ‘being done’.

The council has supported the delivery of ‘high quality, genuinely affordable housing’ it tells us. Yet when I’ve asked for a definition of ‘affordable’ it does not mean what it says.

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It does not mean that the average worker can actually afford to buy the place; it only means it is below market value.

The council has apparently cut the management team. However, hasn’t a new mayor been appointed above all with the lion’s share of funds this council and others need? Doesn’t this have some bearing? Shouldn’t this be mentioned?

Another job well done, we are told, is the fact that it has ‘built new homes in Ely on district council owned land raising around £1.7 million for the public purse.’

Doesn’t this include the catastrophe that is Barton Road Car Park where you can hardly get a parking space? I have yet to meet someone (other than our councillors) who has thought that this was improving our city.

I believe this was the project that one councillor admitted, when questioned, that if every person in Ely objected to this plan, they would still go ahead.

In other words, it didn’t matter what we said; the councillors would still do what they wanted to, our opinion didn’t count.

Then they have the audacity to ask us to complete this ‘survey’ which is nothing but overdressed narcissism.

For example, instead of straight questions such as ‘How do you feel about the current level of tax?’ there is the inevitable self-praising blurb first: ‘Conservatives have frozen …tax, and we have promised to freeze it again…’

It is an insult to research. A ‘survey’ should genuinely seek the opinion of others, not tell them to agree with heavily biased, self-praising propaganda.