Wednesday, 11 March 2009


I don’t know if it counts as self-fulfilling prophecy or built-in flaw, but my blog last week appears to have made worse the very thing I was trying to avoid!

I was trying to warn against the dangers of the political classes getting so consumed with their own personal battles that they overlook the problems they’re supposed to be tackling. By saying this in relation to the provision of youth facilities in Hailsham, I’ve rather reinforced the point, though take no satisfaction from it.

As the prospective LibDem candidate for the next general election, should I be aware of every detail of an internal row that took place over six years ago? Perhaps I should, though I felt that would mean looking back rather than forward, if not be a form of navel gazing.

But clearly feelings still run deep from ructions dating back to 2002. So deep that when I put out a press release asking the county council’s senior official in charge of youth affairs what he’s planning to do to address the fact that the county has closed two youth facilities in Hailsham, it reignites passions to such an extent that, instead of supporting the call, certain people felt the need to accuse me of ‘misinformation and scaremongering’ when I was clearly doing no such thing. That is very sad, and I can’t help feeling it fails the youth of Hailsham.

A point I made in last week’s blog is that I think the work of Hailsham Town Council, including that of Ian Haffenden and Nick Ellwood, on youth facilities is good. I’ve spoken to Laura Murphy about this, and she agrees. She has also acknowledged that her original fears from 10 years ago about the town council taking over 1 Market Square have proved groundless, though she says it was something of an act of faith given that the council had no previous experience in purchasing and running such a facility. In view of the duties on councillors to exercise due diligence, I find her original doubts understandable – even if I can’t judge whether I would have shared them or not – and it’s good she’s willing to acknowledge that it’s worked out well.

I realise that disputes can cause a lot of resentment, and who am I to say that people should let bygones be bygones when they may feel very hurt by things that happened? But is this a reason to sabotage a call for the county council to explain what it intends to do with regard to replacing the youth club at Hailsham School and the young persons’ area at Hailsham East Community College? Surely not.

I hope everyone who has the interests of the youth of Hailsham at heart is as concerned as I am that these facilities have been lost, and that all the head of children’s services at ESCC can say is that he’s ‘listening’ (he may have said more, but unfortunately he hasn’t had the courtesy to reply to my letter). I hope also that we’re not going to be seduced by the £800,000 promised by the county council until we know how much, if any, will go to Hailsham.

These are the problems we should be tackling. Not everyone may wish to work with everyone else – irrespective of what party (or none) they belong to – but we shouldn’t work against the best interests of positive action.

1 comment:

  1. I have gone out of my way to find out the facts. Chris and Laura, you have had a response from East Sussex County Council, so stop telling fibs. If you and Laura were that tuned in to what is going on in Hailsham, you would have known that the Youth Club at Hailsham Community College was being refurbished and not closing as you allege. You are playing the same game of politics that you are criticising. Laura did not vote against 1 Market Square because of the financial aspects, as that was laid out for all to see and vote on. In addition, the business plan stated quite clearly that a qualified youth worker would be employed and subsequently was. Laura Murphy voted against it because it was Nick Ellwood's idea and no other reason, as she was openly hostile towards Nick and always has been. You really need to find out your facts Chris and stop defending those who have personal vendettas against hard working councillors who are not ex defeated candidates and have a mandate to represent the people of Hailsham. I know - I was there. Yours, ex councillor.