Horsham MP Francis Maude in his most recent weekly column ‘2015 will be a big year in politics’ (Horsham edition) states that during the general election campaign it is his intention not to ‘venture a view’ on local issues.
Whilst the electorate would not expect their MP to direct local services, as councillors do, surely these are the issues that most often matter to all of us here in Horsham? Surely the electorate has a right to expect their MP to take a view on a wide range of local issues?
We elect an MP to represent their constituency. It is therefore not good enough for an MP to receive both a generous salary and benefits package on the premise that they have nothing to say about what is going on within their constituency.
In recent weeks many letters have called for local politicians to resign. Horsham Labour Party believe that on the basis of his most recent article Francis Maude too should step aside, if he no longer has an interest in Horsham and our surrounding villages.
Do we really want an MP whose sole purpose appears to be to visit national television and radio studios to promote the latest Tory crackpot idea – Big Society, ending the right to strike, forcing fire fighters to work into their old age to name just three of these.
I fail to understand why Maude wishes to remain quiet on issues as diverse as; the increased numbers of his constituents who now rely on food banks, the chronic lack of affordable housing, the absurd plans to build over our countryside, he slashing of our fire and rescue services when most arise from his government policies. The national policies that he has presided over and which have directly impacted on local issues include:
Cuts in welfare which has hit those most in need hardest and has resulted in many more of his electorate visiting food banks (a disgrace that people in Horsham should need to rely on charity simply to feed themselves and their families).
Historically low levels of house building, combined with ill-conceived incentives to home owners resulting in house price inflation here in Horsham of more than 20 per cent. This national policy has led to ever greater levels of unaffordability locally.
The presumption to build which has so skewed our planning process that we no longer build homes that people want and can afford, but design schemes to maximise profits for developers who care not a jot where the houses are built.
Massive cuts in grants to local authorities which, here in Horsham means that we will now have a Fire and Rescue Service with a capacity to attend just a single house fire at any one time with nothing left back at the station in Hurst Road for road traffic accidents, a second fire or public awareness days.
Clearly the last thing Francis Maude wants is for us to make the connection between what his government is doing nationally and the devastating consequences it is delivering locally.
If enough people make this connection on May 7 then he will no longer need to concern himself with national or local issues. The electorate will surely relieve him of these concerns and consign him to nothing more than a footnote in political history, most likely featuring his part in the expenses row.
Chair, Horsham Labour Party, Clarence Road, Horsham