Monday, October 23, 2006

The vision thing

It is no surprise that Whitless is found wanting when compared to the truly visionary, great leader that laid the Victorian foundations for our modern city. Paul Dale claims that Whitby is hamstrung by the modern system of local government - true up to a point, but when other cities are making the best of it, you can't help but feel that it is more of a dearth of ideas, energy and leadership than a systemic problem.

Dale says that Whitby has to manage a coalition, but the Liberal Democrats seem spectacularly supine and equally incompetent - focussed more on short-term political gain than on stewarding the future of our city. Why else would they pass up the chance to bring road pricing to Birmingham - a key Liberal Democrat policy at national level? Yet again, Manchester is kicking off a campaign to grab some of the government transport money knocking around and Birmingham will probably miss out. The blame can only be laid at the desk of the civic leadership.

Lord Bhattacharyya spoke soundly:

'Chamberlain saw the task ahead and knew what was needed. He took radical decisions. It seems simple now, but every decision taken then was politically controversial.

Chamberlain's actions were radical and decisive. Whether buying the gas and water companies, setting up slum clearances, or building schools and art galleries, he took risks, had failures and because of his willingness to embrace change, he got results. Chamberlain left Birmingham parked, paved, assized, marketed, gas and watered and improved.

I can't help noticing that Chamberlain was a Liberal, then a Conservative. Today we're again ruled by Liberal Conservatives, or is it Conservative Liberals? Yet I can't help but feel they have not yet provided the city with a Chamberlain.'

All we've got is a Whitby. And we're all the poorer for that.

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