Putting the record straight

We don’t normally venture into the field of politics.  But this advertisement in Park Street caught our Eye very recently.  Anyone who reads the local newspaper will know the background – our borough councillors have had an internal tiff.  Quite a serious one, in fact.  Largely within one party.

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We can’t comment on the more personal criticisms reported in the newspaper.  But what interests us is a councillor’s apparent reference to: “the debacle of Camberley town centre and the state of the A30”, and, also their reported claim that: “Efforts by the council’s executive to attract department store chain John Lewis to Camberley…. was a fool’s errand at tax-payers expense.”

Regular readers will know that the Eye has said somewhat similar things.  Over a year ago we wrote about the A30 area: “For longer than we care to remember, we have been saying that the council needs a ‘Plan B’.  Unless it has one, Camberley may well continue to decline in comparison to competing towns.  Who will be to blame?  Ask your local councillor…”  And we’ve quoted from a peer review of the borough council which said “…what risks have been assessed, if the proposed development falters and/or retail partners pull out. For example, the principal focus to date is of an anchor store underpinning the development. However, discussions with this store have been ongoing for six years and a positive response is still awaited.

We have tried to be fair.  We know that life doesn’t always go to plan, and that unexpected problems can arise.  So we sympathise with the council to an extent – but we have said that, unless the council communicates openly about the difficulties that it faces, doubts about its competence are bound to arise.

Talking about openness…  The council’s website used to have links to a council ‘Vision document’.  The document stated that the aim was “take Camberley to a whole new level, becoming a major retail and leisure destination”.  However, as far as we can tell, the links to the document have been quietly removed.  (Google can still find it, though.)

But the council isn’t the only one to receive negative criticism.  The Eye does too. Sometimes the criticism is demonstrably wide of the mark;  we have been accused of “taking pictures of every empty crisp packet….”  but we’re not sure that a crisp packet has EVER featured in the Eye.  Sometimes the criticism is just plain puzzling;  very recently, when discussing the Eye’s praise for the splendid flowers outside The Carpenters Arms, a councillor criticised us for adding: “If only the shops in the High Street could all be persuaded to do something similar…….”

So, let’s put the record straight.  On its Camberley blog and Facebook page the Eye never makes comments – good or bad – about ordinary people.  It doesn’t make personal comments about anyone other than those in a senior public post.  It publicises new shops and restaurants, but it otherwise rarely comments on their service or products, and never does this adversely.  But, the Eye DOES remark on what it sees of the performance of our borough and county councils.  Local residents – tax-payers – including the Eye, pay for the councils after all.  If we see good things, we report them.  If we see bad things, we report them too.  We support what we say with arguments, facts and photographs, not with prejudice.

On its front page, the Eye’s blog has always invited contributions from anyone.  Anyone can contribute to the Eye’s Facebook page too.  They can also add comments.  We’ve virtually never deleted anyone’s input, whether we agreed with it or not.  So, if someone criticises, but doesn’t contribute, perhaps they are being a little bit negative themselves.

Back to normal tomorrow!

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19 thoughts on “Putting the record straight

  1. Every town needs its ‘Eye’. Yours, and other Camberley-related social media & web sites are vital information and rallying call sources and we would be so much the poorer without them. You are never libelous and if authorities are upset it’s because you are not only being read but you are being reacted to. I learn more from the Eye than I ever do from the local paper. Our council is probably no better or worse than any other, and has to work on hugely restricted budgets, but that doesn’t mean their deficiencies can’t be mentioned. Keep going – I look forward to tomorrow’s normal service.

  2. Thank you David! Well said. I could not agree more and I have nothing further to add except to say that I have copied in my Town Councillors.

    Ian McLaughlin Flat 10, St Georges Crt

  3. It would be interesting to see how much, in total has been “invested” in wooing John Lewis. On another point, we need a ” Camberley Eye” sitting on the shoulders of the politicos. We need people who “own” the decisions about our town. I sometimes feel that our councillors get too comfortable in their roles and only start caring at election time- watch out for the power of the ballot box councillors.

    • I strongly believe, Bob, that people in a position of influence should only serve for a defined period – three or four years – plus a possibility of ONE renewal. I’ve applied this rule to myself. New blood and new ideas are essential. Occasionally it means losing a valuable contributor (though they can usually be given a ‘consultancy’ role), but overall it’s a winning formula. But re JL, it’s not so much the possibility of money wasted in the pursuit as in time lost. The London Road Block has now suffered ‘planners blight’ for years. (The public meeting a few months ago showed considerable support for someone – an affected shopkeeper, I think – who made this point.) By not moving forward, the council has allowed the situation to move backwards.

  4. The town council does indeed require a good size 9 doctor martin up its backside. There are a range of issues they have skirted or simply ignored.
    Take for example:
    – The A30 town centre section shambles eyesore – it seems it could take years to change it from anything but a positive hoarding hiding the dereliction behind. Thats not acceptable.
    – Pembroke House on the Frimley Road. Derelict for 15+ years and recently if you could call it that (1 or 2 years???) boarded around. Absolute eyesore, TESCO came close to redeveloping the site but local complainers ruled that out. If the council – who own the land – are unwilling or simply do not care enough to even speak to the people about it, why not demolish the eyesore building and put a small park with railings round it??? 15+ years of eyesore on council owned land. Thats really not acceptable.
    – Camberley Town Football Club. Granted planning permission (after several attempts) to provide lots of new facilities. Campaign largely run by one aged local resident to stop the redevelopment of the football is mis-informing the local public about the impact of the project. The development is stalled due to the continued letter writing and objections to the council by this individual. This is a community facility, badly needed in the area. Council (and councillors) assistance in getting this actually happening is completely absent. That is really not acceptable and people should not believe some of the negative so called “facts” that are being spread around.
    Rant over – apologies but the council really does need to address these issues and not hide its head in the sand – we probably need some new local councillors to replace the ones that can take their money and ignore blatant issues for so long.

  5. It is a truth universally acknowledged that one-party states with long-term incumbent leaders don’t tend to function very well. Since Surrey Heath is, to all intents and purposes, such a state, it is useful that the Camberley Eye is there to keep watch on things that might otherwise be swept under the carpet. Keep up the good work, but watch out for a knock on the door in the middle of the night followed by swift deportation to Aldershot (or not so swift if the deportation is by train..).

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