Thoughts from the Development Control Committee

Why local politics is worth taking an interest in

By James Hiley

Though it may not have the excitement and importance that national politics can have, local Council affairs and meetings can be worth taking an interest in.
I went down to watch the Development Control Committee meet at the Council Chamber in Grantham; and though I was apprehensive and somewhat dubious about exactly what the meeting would entail on the day, I soon discovered that it gave an interesting insight into the work that Councillors do to help their local area.

SKDC crest - Council Building
At times, I felt as though I was on the set of something not far from Armando Iannucci’s political comedy ‘The Thick of It’ (albeit without the bad language!). For example, the amount of interest and attention to detail taken in one instance to the safety and protection of a single ash tree kept me on the edge of my seat, surprisingly enough. At one point, discussion turned to the welfare of the tree, and how local residents had ‘raised concerns as to its safety’. In approving planning permission for building housing close to the tree many different factors were taken into account, including the tree’s life expectancy and the amount of room it had to grow. I will concede that I had to stop myself at times from laughing at this amusing discussion in the presence of these serious local politicians, who were debating the issue so passionately.

This may make many consider just how well South Kesteven District Council are focusing their attention, it shows just how much many Councillors care about local issues, and the interests of local people. This paints a contrasting picture to the one shown in the media and elsewhere as to the intentions of ‘politicians’ in general.  Here, I did not see greedy career politicians, but local citizens, who genuinely cared a great deal about the cases discussed, and wanted a good outcome for all concerned.

SKDC Council Chamber, Grantham
The experience is one that I would recommend to anyone even vaguely interested in politics; and I would advise those filled with skepticism to go into the meeting with an open mind. Though it takes a few minutes to get your head around some of the jargon used, the visit can prove interesting at times, especially if they discuss planning in your area, or a planning issue that you are familiar with. It is free, anyone can go, and it is simple to discretely walk in and out of the back of the room without attracting too much attention.

Besides, it can never be a bad thing to analyse the people we vote into power at a local level, and see the man or woman behind the campaign propaganda in action.