It is especially difficult on a community level when it seems we can never win. If we don’t get involved then we are not interested except at election time. If we do then it must be because we are trying to make it political and get some electoral benefit for ourselves for it.
I have been involved in community groups well before any political involvement came about- it is why I was first asked to stand for Council. I have kept that going, during the five years I was a County Councillor and since. As Vice Chair of Governors at a Secondary School I never bring my politics into school – although unfortunately the same can’t be said of some others. I Chair a Development Trust and Vice Chair of a football Trust locally. Neither of these bring me any political benefit as they are located in the Rhondda and my political activities now centre around Pontypridd. Yet I still give my time and energy to them because I believe they are worthwhile.
There are of course times when the political and the community interests come together. A case in point is the fight to save Pontypridd paddling pool. We (RCT Welsh Lib Dems) have been against this all along, and yes we have made a political point of that, because it is a political issue. The decision on the renovation of the Lido and the removal of the pool is a Council one, a political one.
Councillor Mike Powell is the ONLY one who voted against the plans at Development Control Committee. He was the only Councillor who went along to the Cabinet meeting and questioned the Officers’ report and the recommendation to approve the project. He asked for the decision to be called in. If anyone out there thinks it is easy to be on your own amongst 75 Councillors in that Chamber then think again.
Yet there are people who still say that the politics should be kept out of the campaign. Really? Where then would the campaign be now.
We brought this to the attention of the public. I have spent hours writing leaflets and press releases, we have given up our time to get those out and keep people informed. We have reported back from Council meetings which the public would know nothing about. We have set up a Facebook group again to pass on information. Yes we have put our Party name on it, but why shouldn’t we? It is what we are. It would be far more suspicious if we didn’t.
We have now set up a community meeting to discuss areferendum, and again there are a few (very few) who condemn us for that. Yet what have they done? We are a campaigning unit, we know how to go about these things. So whilst the few who are against all things political sit and complain we have set up a time and date, issued the press release, produced the posters, and there are a couple of thousand leaflets publicising it ready to go out.
Hopefully the majority of people will see this for the community issue it is, regardless of who is taking the lead, and just be grateful somebody is. If they don’t then there is nothing else we can do, and there will be little point complaining once the paddling pool is gone.