According to research from the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2008, cynicism now represents one of the greatest threats to democracy.
It was found that people are more cynical about politics than anything else, and that cynicism is a more important factor than distrust when it comes to whether people vote. Cynicism, of course, is the belief that people are generally selfish and dishonest.
I was reminded of this when reading in these pages of the Cabinet decision on how £2.6m of Performance Reward Grant is to be shared between nine successful bids.
I do not doubt for a second that all bids were worthy submissions by worthy organisations and that Calderdale Forward assessed them robustly against the five qualifying criteria.
It is interesting though that eight of the nine appear to be Borough-wide initiatives and that the Mixenden Centre Hub is the only one that is place specific. I am sure that this is a very worthy project that will deliver all of the benefits set out in its bid submission document, but the public might be justified in querying the timing of the grant award given that within 24 hours of the Cabinet meeting Councillor Collins, a Cabinet member who also represents Illingworth and Mixenden, was exclaiming his delight at the news, and that Councillor Collins is standing for re-election next month.
It is also interesting that the applicants and delivery partners of the nine successful bids are dominated by the Council or other public sector or quasi-public sector agencies. Again, whilst not doubting the worthiness of these submissions, it is interesting that none of the community or voluntary sector led bids were successful. These bids made up a good proportion of the 142 applications for funding and in the context of the Government’s drive to support the empowerment of civil associations it is perhaps disappointing that none found favour.
I may, of course, have simply succumbed to the cynicism that according to the LSE is afflicting the voting public, and it may well have been that funding for the Mixenden Centre Hub could not have been given in any other way or at any other time. Similarly, it may be that the public sector-led successful bids and the Council staff required to oversee them will deliver greater benefit, and lever greater additional funding, than the community or voluntary sector led bids.
I am though optimistic enough to believe that there is a better way of doing things and that this is very easy to achieve. The Council needs simply to recognise that it does not exist to protect either the position of its members or the jobs of its staff. The Council is an organisation that exists solely for the benefit of its residents. If it did, we would have no cause to be cynical about it would we?
Conservative Candidate in Greetland and Stainland