Councillors, please!

IT IS my personal view (not necessarily that of the Civic Society whose members have not yet been consulted) that a few Arun district councillors did themselves no favours at all and brought the rest of the council into considerable disrepute by their unpleasant and childish behaviour at the full council meeting on September 5.

A group of young people was present in the public gallery, and for many it was their first experience of a council meeting.

Speaking to these people afterwards, I was saddened but not surprised to hear them say how disgusted they were to see these councillors, who are supposed to be adult and responsible, indulging themselves in thinly-veiled mockery and plain disinterest when the public have taken the trouble to attend and speak at their meeting.

And if anybody doubts this, simply take a look at the comments on the ‘Save Our Cinema’ Facebook site, where people have expressed their thoughts on the matter. To me this is symptomatic of much that is wrong with Arun District Council at present, where some councillors and a very few senior officers, all of whom should know better, seem to consider themselves superior to the rest of us. They think they know best, when sometimes they plainly do not, and they are not prepared even to listen to the very people they are supposed to be serving.

This has also emerged in the shockingly draconian treatment of a long-serving Arun employee, recently suspended on her leaving day and escorted out of the building for having the temerity to privately express her concerns for the condition and future of the authority.

It is vital the leadership at Arun immediately takes this on board, without feeble excuses and tit-for-tat comments, and takes positive and constructive action to ensure the public recognises a new wave of engagement, connection and positive, meaningful and active listening from Arun towards them, because without this Arun is surely a ‘broken authority’ as someone from within has already said.

And I emphasise that I mean the leadership. There are a great many people at Arun District Council who are striving to do the best possible job for the public, and it is the leadership that is letting them down.

I look forward to hearing that my comments, and those of all the young people I have referred to, have been listened to and that Arun will be adopting a new and positive direction from now on.

Hugh Coster

East Avenue,