I WATCHED the BCP full council meeting in despair. The council is now run by a party that received 28 per cent of the vote last May. Considering the turnout was 33.19 per cent of voters, this means that 9.29 per cent of the voting population of BCP voted for the party in charge. How is this democracy in action?

Almost every Conservative councillor spoke of a “catalogue of disasters”, almost as if they had been told to use that phrase in their speech. Here are some of the issues they pointed at the Unity Alliance:

1. The rollout of the Experimental Traffic Regulation Orders throughout the area. These orders are part of a national initiative thought up by the Conservative government – every local authority has them or plans to use them. The Conservatives said there was no consultation with the population. That’s untrue – the consultations are online and there for anyone to read. I understand not everyone has access to the internet so that is why the details are in libraries, council offices, etc.

2. The way that the Unity Alliance handled the issue with the beaches and roads being overcrowded back in early summer. This was a day that happened due to the conflicting advice sent out by the Conservative government and the Dominic Cummings visit to Barnard Castle. Many people I spoke to thought that if it was good enough for him to break lockdown rules, then it was good enough for them. BCP wasn’t ready for the number of people that arrived – no hotels were open, no restaurants, shops, etc. so of course the only place people could go was the beach. The council had no powers at the time to close the beaches so what were they to do? The leader, Vikki Slade, contacted the Conservative opposition on the day to try to provide a united front for media, etc. and no-one from the Conservatives turned out to help, so it was left to Cllr Slade to pick up the pieces and face the media alone – almost as if the Conservatives wanted her to fail.

3. The number of homeless on the streets has increased since the Unity Alliance gained control. This is true, as it is across the country, due to the woeful inadequacies of the Conservative government’s social care provision. More and more people find themselves homeless through no fault of their own. The Conservative BCP opposition’s response to this? Motion a bill to fine homeless people up to £1,000. This speaks volumes for the caring, compassionate Conservatives.

4. The conurbation’s streets are dirtier than ever, parks are unkempt. Could this be because the council is working under ever increasing financial constraints due to the lack of investment from central government? The Unity Alliance inherited a financial deficit left by the outgoing Conservatives of over £2million in spring 2019. In a year, they have turned that around and ended the 2019/2020 financial year with a £200,000 surplus.

Not one of the Conservative councillors could point to a single plan they have come up with that would make BCP a better place to live. I find that telling.

I am not aligned to any political party. I am a very concerned resident of Bournemouth who wants this town to flourish. I feel Cllr Slade and the Unity Alliance have done a sterling job over the past year, given the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in. To stage a coup in these circumstances, taking advantage of the reduction on Unity Alliance numbers due to the sad death of two councillors (and the associated issue that there can be no elections to replace these councillors) is reprehensible. I could understand it if the town was falling apart as a result of council action/inaction, but I have seen nothing but good come from Cllr Slade and her team.

Yes, there are areas of life that can be improved – there are ever increasing strains on the road network, potholes seem to be a way of life and the “road to nowhere” issue of the Wessex Way relief road running to the hospital needs sorting out but let’s remember the council have a finite pot of resources, which gets smaller each year – I for one would not like to have the leader’s job. In his speech, Cllr Mellor (leader of the Conservative group and architect of this power grab) said it had been his ambition to lead the council – that was very telling.

I can see a return to the bad old days of Bournemouth being run for the benefit of the Conservative group’s friends in big business, not for the benefit of the people on minimum wage who are struggling to get by. I am willing to bet one of the first proposals to come out of the new administration will be a return to fining people for the crime of being homeless.

If you are as upset or unhappy at this power grab, make it known to your locally elected representative – their contact details are on the BCP Council website – and think about standing to become a local councillor. It’s all too easy to think someone else will do it, but without a sensible opposition, the Conservatives will again ruin this beautiful town.


Pine Avenue, Bournemouth