Monday, August 11, 2008
Whose hands in whose pockets?
My fellow Darlington bloggers and Tory councillors Mike and Gill Cartwright appear to lead a charmed life as far as exposure in the Northern Echo is concerned. Journalists seem to fall over themselves to print their opinions in full. And as a bit of a 'media whore' myself, I appreciate the Cartwrights' strategy.
Despite the old dictum, however, not all news is good news. And I wonder if Mike and Gill will regret their local lead item in today's Echo, where they instruct DBC to "put its hand in its pocket" and stump up tens of thousands of pounds to immediately replace the service recently withdrawn by Arriva which served two of their estates?
Now not wanting to sound like a crusty old Tory myself, but that is the Council Tax payers' pocket which the Cartwrights want the Council to raid, never mind the hundreds of thousands of pounds we pay to Arriva at the moment to provide rural and non-profit making routes. It follows Darlington Tories' similarly knee-jerk reaction to the post office closures.
In both cases, rushing in with local state subsidies would send a distinctly dubious message to the likes of Arriva and the Post Office. By all means, Arriva, slash bus routes around the town on the basis that they're not commercial - the Council will step in to replace them. We'd soon get the reputation of being a 'soft touch'.
Better by far to apply pressure on Arriva to reinstate these routes on a commercial basis, at nil cost to Council Tax payers. That's the approach which the Labour Council and our local MP Alan Milburn have adopted.
The Tories are fast becoming the party with apparently limitless cash to fund their pet projects. Traditional opposition tactics, to be sure, but not ones that in the long-run inspire confidence amongst the public.