September 2, 2016: Some of this week’s letters
Time they listened to their MP
I am pleased to see that Chris White agrees with the Warwick and Leamington Labour Party (‘Front page reiterates unitary authority call’, Courier last week).
Locally, we need to get serious about reforming our local government by adopting a unitary authority. A three-tier system is unwieldy and costly. We are already experiencing unprecedented levels of cuts to public services delivered by both county and district councils while at the same time the government pursues its relentless marketising of education, health and care services.
Why then continue to waste public money with an unnecessary tier of local government? We could make significant and urgent savings by avoiding duplication and merging services. This instead of cuts to services for the homeless, the young, the disabled and those with learning difficulties.
Surely it’s simple? Sadly not. It is the Conservative leadership at Warwick District Council that has been particularly resistant to look seriously at a unitary authority. It is also the only council in Warwickshire not to actively consider joining the West Midlands Combined Authority.
Worse still, Andrew Mobbs and his councillors are so determined to retain their “independence” at the cost of the taxpayer that the Tories are intending to plough ahead with a hugely costly development on the Covent Garden car park to build new council offices. With the future of local government so uncertain, the plans for the council HQ will quickly turn into a white elephant at huge cost to local taxpayers. There are cost-effective medium term solutions to council office accommodation while we look seriously at a unitary approach.
At present we have three tiers of local government – county, district and town. Not only will a unitary authority be more effective and save money, it will also give us the opportunity to make our town councils more responsive to local needs. Cllr Mobbs and the Conservative district council, listen to your MP.
Jerry Weber, Chair, Warwick & Leamington Labour Party
Our response puts us to shame
In terms of response to the crisis in Syria and Iraq and the resulting people fleeing their destroyed homes and seeking refuge in the UK, I fear that Coventry’s response has rather put us in Warwick and Leamington to shame. Statutory and voluntary bodies are working together to welcome displaced peoples to the city and supporting them in building new lives.
Many people in Warwick and Leamington are outward looking and compassionate and respond well to calls to support refugees. For example, the people of St Michael’s Budbrooke link with Coventry-based charity ‘Carriers of Hope’ to provide financial and practical support, and the local Mothers’ Union recently welcomed a group from Carriers and hosted a day of activities in our rural area and historic church. There has also been a great response to the needs in the camps in Calais and Greece.
But I do wonder how we can more systematically respond and welcome people permanently to our area, rather than seeing it as Coventry’s issue. I’d like to ask your paper to report positively on refugee response and support and tell good news stories about people who have settled here and now play a part in our communities.
I believe that the UK Government can and must do more. We should strive to host at least double the number of refugees that the Government has currently pledged. This will only happen if areas like Warwick and Leamington play their part.
G Frigerio, Via email