So the dust has settled, and since I last posted on these pages we have a new MP, Rachael Maskell, and a shaken-up and changed local council.
The local council results were interesting and thought-provoking. Perhaps they always are, if you’re sufficiently engaged, but it’s the first local election where I found myself scrutinising the numbers and caring about what happened to particular people.
If you’re interested, and I hope you are, I’ve put together a survey with a few questions on how we voted, and why. It’s on this link and I’d really appreciate your thoughts.
In some ways I’ve been feeling optimistic about the new council, because of new members like Keith Myers and Johnny Hayes. On the other hand it seems sad that the council has lost some experienced councillors who were Labour but stood as Independents this year.
The ‘Independent’ stance was of particular interest in my own ward of Clifton, as our two Labour councillors left Labour rather dramatically, last autumn, and stood as ‘Independent Labour’. And, like Brian Watson in Guildhall, who stood as an Independent, they didn’t get re-elected.
Is it perhaps that most of us have not much of an idea who our councillors actually are, and vote instead for the party we’ve always voted for? This was I confess my approach in the past.
Or is it all to do with effective campaigning? In Clifton, the Labour candidates campaigned vigorously and consistently, were out knocking on doors and talking to people, and approaching that in more thoughtful ways, like leafleting in advance of a visit with a card to put in the window if you wanted them to call. In contrast, from the Independent Labour candidates we had one leaflet through the door. They may have been out and about in other streets in Clifton, but it seems that whatever it was they did it wasn’t enough, as neither of them were re-elected.
Not impossible to get a seat as an Independent, as Johnny Hayes was successful in Micklegate.
I’m sad that Brian Watson wasn’t re-elected to the council. He was very helpful some years ago when I had concerns about the RCAF hostel buildings behind the art gallery (since demolished), and was apparently the only person who stood up for the Burnholme club building (since demolished) at the meeting to decide its fate. (“I feel the money could have been raised to refurbish the building and we are going to lose something which is iconic in that part of York” – Press website)
I hope Dave Taylor will continue to defend our heritage assets, including the ‘ugly’ ‘eyesore’ bits like the old Airspeed factory, as he has, and that other people will do the same. I’m hoping that Danny Myers, here in Clifton ward, will be one of them.
But enough of my hopes. It’s dangerous to hope too much, it can lead to disappointment.
In fact it already has. While I’ve been writing this page. Which was going to end with a note that I’m sad that Daf Williams is no longer council leader. He always sounded thoughtful and measured and I appreciated this approach. I then wrote that I hope all members of the new council will be similarly thoughtful and careful. But the new Conservative and LibDem coalition, launching into action, have already caused upset in referring to the Arts Barge project as one of the ‘vanity projects’ the previous administration was often criticised for. Visit oneandother.com for an excellent article by Marcia Mackey, written in response.