Letter: Harrogate Council - Give us straight forward answers

Council Offices
Council Offices

The two recent letters to the Advertiser from the Leader of Harrogate Council, Coun Richard Cooper, have been most revealing.

In the April 14 edition he stated that he rarely wrote to the newspaper as he believed the letters page was a place for constituents to express their views – rather than councillors.

But when those constituents are criticising councillors for their actions, surely the Advertiser is the obvious and best place for Coun Cooper and his colleagues to respond? Otherwise, it gives the impression that residents are being ignored and that many of their questions go unanswered.

Coun Cooper also made the point of not wanting to “get into a dialogue” with a resident over the council’s decision to splash out £9m building new offices for itself. This was curious enough in itself; a council leader who prefers not to engage in dialogue with residents he supposedly represents.

But then, after some of your other correspondents raised further questions on this highly controversial issue, Coun Cooper clearly couldn’t resist putting up another stout defence as to why these new offices are necessary (Advertiser, April 28).

So when he claims he doesn’t want to get into a dialogue, you can’t help but reflect that what he probably means is that he feels perfectly entitled to put his own view but rather less inclined to listen to what others have to say – and also respond to them.

This arrogant attitude of apparently convincing oneself that residents of the borough don’t deserve the courtesy of being given full answers to straightforward and legitimate questions appears to be pervading other parts of the council.

In recent times, even my own ward councillors have completely ignored correspondence or provided me with misleading and/or unhelpful replies.

Since the start of this year, I’ve been taking advantage of the facility which allows members of the public to ask questions at the start of council meetings. But, on the whole, one is generally gently fobbed off with a polite reply, clearly cobbled together by an official.

And unlike councillors, members of the public are denied the opportunity to ask a pertinent follow-up question.

Peter Lilley

Valley Drive, Harrogate