So I’ve managed to get a letter published in the local paper!

Basically, when we got last weeks local paper, the first letter I read on the letters page was from a reader complaining at the endless succession of letters from local politicians that had been published in recent weeks. Essentially there are two big local issues, the housing allocation, and the fate of Emmbrook School – and the two big groupings on the council don’t agree, and are blaming each other for the housing issue, and arguing over the school.

Anyway, having read, and agreed with the content of the letter, elsewhere on the page I found two long letters from a couple of Conservative members of the council putting their points again on the two issues, and then both launching into a ‘Liberal Democrats were unfit to represent the local people’, in much the same way as the Liberal Democrats had done in previous weeks, and the Conservatives before that.

As I suspect do most other people, I find the whole thing pretty tedious, and whilst my grandfather was an active local politician, I’m really less than impressed at the bunch we have around here.

Anyway, I was suitably annoyed, so I sent off the following by e-mail:

It was with some interest that I read Derek Harding’s letter in this weeks Wokingham Times calling on the Wokingham Councillors of all parties to stop having ‘ping-pong’ debates in the letters page of the local newspaper. Having read that letter first, it was with some surprise that reading the rest of the letters I found not one, but two diatribes from councillors Cowan and Browne, as further contributions to the increasing tiresome ping-pong arguments that have been carried on in the letters page over recent weeks. As before, rather than just content themselves with addressing the issues, both Cowan and Browne, as with the Liberal Democrat councillors before them, cannot resist more of the tedious, hyped up mud-slinging of their previous letters – one declaring the Liberal Democrats to be failing as an opposition, the other as being unfit to represent the residents of Wokingham.

To be honest if the recent examples in the letters page of the Wokingham Times are anything to go by, the labels could equally well be applied to either group, and I am not in the least surprised by the general disinterest and low turnout that we get come local election time when this is the choice that we are given. Certainly as a resident who is represented by one of the main source of the letters, and someone who has had Mr Cowan on my doorstep in the past asking for me to vote for him, the recent performance in the letters page has left me less than impressed. What Wokingham needs for councillors are people who know how to act like adults, and can do their duty by representing their residents properly dealing with the very real issues that face our area, rather than carrying on this school playground name calling masquerading as political discussion has been paraded through the Wokingham Times letters page in recent weeks.

The letters page of the Wokingham Times should not be allowed to be used as a resource for a free party political slanging match by these local councillors. Both the Wokingham Conservatives, and Wokingham Liberal Democrats have websites, and also regularly distribute printed newsletters to homes in the district. Both of these are methods by which the politicians can distribute their messages rather than wasting space in the paper. The letters page should primarily be a place where we the local people, the people these councillors have been elected to represent should be able to make our opinions known.

The letter has been printed in the paper exactly as written, aside from some reformatting, and breaking it into more paragraphs. Although amusingly on the page it comes after two responses to last weeks efforts from the Conservatives by two Liberal Democrats. Someone on the paper trying to stir things up? Conservatives read the two Lib Dem responses, then my letter which basically tells them to start acting like adults? I wonder.

So the real test though will be to see next weeks paper to see how the various parties react… Will the Conservatives respond to the Liberal Democrat letters and carry on the stupid arguing? Will they respond to my letter? Or Both? Any of those responses I think will prove my points. Of course I equally well could have totally misjudged the mood and I’ll get flamed by a load of people who like all the letters.

Anyway I’ll wait and see what happens…

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