Mione Goldspink's article for the flyer, March 2019
By Mione Goldspink in Bishop's Stortford Flyer
Local Matters with Mione Goldspink March 2019
March 2019 will be the fateful month when Great Britain and Northern Ireland will leave the European Union - unless a miracle occurs which could save us all from this self-inflicted folly. I know that the democratic vote in 2016 was in favour of Leaving by 52% to 48%. This split in the vote demonstrated very clearly that we are a divided nation.
I am a "Remainer" and I have been trying to understand the "Mind-set" of the "Leavers", who genuinely thought that we would be better off by leaving the EU, rather than by remaining. Did they feel that the EU was to blame for all our problems? Did they dislike the EU-inspired regulations that protected Workers' rights and holiday pay? Did they object to the EU regulations that cleaned up all our beaches? I know they worried about too much immigration, but there does exist an EU Regulation that permits any member country to put a Temporary Break on Free Movement of people if it has evidence that its Local Councils are struggling to provide sufficient local services. Why did the Conservative Government not use this regulation?
I strongly support the idea of Citizens' Assemblies at which un-biased experts could speak and provide information on all aspects of the Brexit dilemma. Groups of 100 randomly selected Citizens from across the Country would attend and listen. After listening, they would discuss the topics in small groups, with a facilitator. Understanding of the facts and of each other's point of view would be greatly enhanced . After these Assemblies had been held, we could have a People's Vote, and the People could decide. In order for all this to happen, more time will be needed and an extension or Article 50 will be required. I do hope that our MPs will have the vision to support this idea.
Local Politics pale into insignificance in relation to the momentous drama of Brexit, but local life must continue somehow. There will be elections for Town and District Councils in May. At the moment the Conservatives hold nearly all the seats on both Councils, and there is virtually no opposition. As Liberal Democrats, we support some of the Tories' actions, but we are strongly critical of others. We criticise Tories for their failure to tackle the shocking levels of Air Pollution in the Town. We criticise them for their reluctance to listen to the public protest over the 6-storey car park at Northgate End. We criticise them for failing to justify the building of a 500 seater Theatre in Old River Lane. What is the evidence that Theatre companies would come and use it? Would it become a White Elephant? How would the funding for the existing, smaller Theatre space at Rhodes Arts Complex (and the reliant Town Museum) be protected? We criticise the Tories for failing to provide sufficient affordable and social Housing in the District.
I hope that everyone will think very carefully before voting in May.
Chairman, Bishop's Stortford Liberal Democrats