Well someone else has been elected in my place now and I can say morally, if not legally, i am no longer a councillor in Fakenham. Of course it is yet to be decided if I have elected to Broadland District Council for Taverham, which is unlikely given the fact that electioneering has been severely curtailed for me by issues and concerns about my wife's pregnancy, which thankfully now seems to be going fine.
So why the thank goodness ? Well, really it is for the simple fact that I have felt sidelines and an unwanted figure in the Lib Dem group in North Norfolk. When I say this I don't mean that all the Lib Dem councillors hate me. What I am saying is that there are those in charge who couldn't wait for me to go away and stop asking the awkward questions, and that includes officers as well as councillors.
I hope the Lib Dems retain control of the Council in North Norfolk. However, I hope they start acting in a way that more befits the Liberal Democrats and has less in common with the Conservatives and is less driven by what the officers have to say. If the officers want to close a playground (North Lodge park in Cromer) to save money, the Liberal Democrats need to ask they there to simply save money and hop to the Tories agenda of slash and burn, or are we there to provide a basic standard of service that would otherwise be missing.
Take for example Fakenham, which was until today my ward, and the policy of attempting to close one set of toilets and an adjacent car park. I do not know how many times I have had to attempt to influence the cabinet to stop plans to do what the officers have recommended because, they say, it will save money. My constant argument has been that the car park is needed, it is used, and the toilets are a vital amenity. Now matter how many times the cabinet agrees to keep them, it pops up again six months later in a series of officer recommendations and the process is repeated.
So I wish whoever succeeds me the best of luck. I will warn them to be vigilant in the early months about attempts to close local facilities again, but will also urge Lib Dems, both old and new to the council, to think much harder about why it is that the Tories seem to vote with us all the time. We might like to think that it is because our policies are wise, sensible and are good news for North Norfolk. however, it might just be that the policies are too conservative, to much like the Tories do nothing agenda and simply lack the vision that people elected the Lib Dems to show.
The new council, if it is to be dynamic, needs to do some of the things it has been good at more and shout about it. Our proposals for recycling, environmentally friendly house building and improving the supply of low cost affordable housing have been the most innovative in Norfolk and put the Green Party's green credentials to shame. The work on the Shoreline Management Plan has seen North Norfolk District Council become the country's experts in protecting the coast whilst the housing stock transfer has proved to be a massive success.
Let's see a fresh impetus from the Lib Dems in North Norfolk. They have a great MP, a visionary thinker in Norman Lamb, now they need to follow his example much more. Furthermore, let's hope they elect another awkward so and so like me who can keep the leadership on its toes and make it remember that we are Liberal Democrats and we are there to work for the people not to placate the Tories.