David Pibworth | On The Brink

Phonebox Magazine June 2021

So here we are again then. You may have noticed that my column was missing in the May edition. There was a good reason . . .

. . . It was the Olney Town Council elections and as I was standing as a candidate, we felt a page written by me may give me an unfair advantage as The Phonebox was doing a free editorial on all those standing.

One of the questions that was put to me when I was chatting to people regarding the election recently was “Will you still be allowed to write your article if you’re elected?” “Oh yes indeed” I answered, and I would just like to publicly thank all those who voted for me and indeed the rest of the council. There was a very good turn out and a clear message from the town.

There is a brilliant variety of people on OTC now and many different views, but on meeting them all I think I can safely say we all have the interests of Olney foremost in our minds. I for one embrace openness and democracy (which is the ticket I stood on) and will do everything I can to let people know what’s going on. Others feel the same and I feel that at last, we can fully utilise print and social media to keep the public informed of local matters and of course it works the other way in that we can pick up on what people think by taking notice of it. And yep, I shall still be putting up jokes on my personal threads.

Mind you, there is no better way to gauge public opinion than by talking to the public directly and I’m sure people will make the most of quite a few councillors being out and about and available for a natter.

I will make it clear here that I won’t be writing about the council every month, but as I have never been on a council, my initial observations on my first few days on it are worth relaying, in order for those who stand in the future to take note of if they wish.

For a start I’d advise anyone standing next time around to avoid letting a political party run your campaign. If you’re approached to join a group and have literature printed and hand posted to Olney locals by current Conservative ward councillors – just say no. It doesn’t work. Town councils aren’t political. Just be yourself. 

Also it’s worth noting that on your first few days you will be bombarded with a shed load of official emails giving you information that could be easily condensed into one. But as an expert on comedy and a huge fan of ‘Yes, Minister’ I expected nothing less. (It’s more ‘Yes, Councillor’ – same format – considerably less power!) It takes a bit of time to get used to it but it’s not 

terribly complicated, so long as you just keep your mind on the fact that all we are doing is representing the people of Olney.

All councillors are given their own council email address mine is……….. davidpibworth@olneytowncouncil.gov.uk

(if you need to contact me).

Interestingly – with my democratic head on – when I first logged on I found about 3,400 emails in the inbox. Good grief, were we already that popular or unpopular? However, when I looked, they were just historic emails from the last year or so, which I looked through for about an hour and actually they gave me very good oversight and detail of what projects were in the pipeline and where it all stood at present. I wouldn’t have even mentioned this if it hadn’t been for a missive the next day telling us that we don’t have access to them, and they were taken away from the elected councillors. 

I’ve not worked that one out yet, as it now seems that we have to ask for any specific information we want and someone else will have to wade through all these emails to give us any information that we ask for. This seems to put the onus of extremely hard work and long hours on officials who probably have other more pressing matters to deal with. However I’ll look into that one, as I’m sure we can make everyone’s life easier with a bit of discussion and thought.

Going to the headline of this article, it is a line from the TV series The Beiderbeck Affair when the character played by Barbara Flynn was standing for local election and James Bolam says, “We are on the brink of a new era, if only”… and then the loud-hailer breaks down and by the time they get it going again they’ve forgotten how to end it.

I feel a bit like that, but I’m very positive about it all.

Up The Revolution – Toodle pip!

David Pibworth

David Pibworth | Phoneboxmagazine


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