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.
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!