John Osman took over as Leader of Somerset County Council after Ken Maddock quit earlier this year. Maddock had presided over several years of deeply unpopular actions, including attempted library closures, slashed youth services and the sell-off of public forests in Somerset. He even tried to suspend all highways maintenance works for a period of three years, a proposal that would have cost 9 times more than it saved and led to the resignation of his fellow Conservative Cabinet Member for Transportation, warning that the policy would cost lives.
Osman made much of his supposedly listening style, trying to put some distance between him and what he referred to as Maddock’s ‘more robust’ style. Osman took to the airwaves recently with an hour-long phone-in on BBC Somerset trying to cement this listening image. When I put it to him that he hadn’t made a very good start by ignoring, on his very first day in the job, the 45,000 people that called on him to suspend Maddock’s sale of public land on the Quantocks, he claimed not to remember. Not remember?? Was it because it was such a long time ago (only 4 months) or such a small number of people (45,000!). I sent him a copy of the presentation I gave when I handed-in the petition showing that we made a direct appeal to him personally to suspend the sale and show that he wasn’t just ‘Mini-Maddock’. His response? Nothing. So much for his ‘listening’ style. How many people does it take for him to listen? Can anyone tell me anything he has listened to? Any of Maddock’s policies that he’s changed or reversed? I’m happy to hear them. I’ll even make a list, but I’m not expecting to need a very large piece of paper.
New Leader, same old policies.
And let’s not forget that Maddock has not slunk off into the shadows as we might have wished. He’s standing as the Conservative candidate for the £80,000-per-year Avon & Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner’s post. You may not think it’s worth voting in that election (15th November) but let me urge you to make sure you do. And who should you vote for? Well, anyone but Maddock unless you want the Police Force to be decimated in the way Somerset County Council has.
Pic: Somerset County Council