The local politics column with Councillor Mike Stathers

All we want on the Brexit issue is an outcome.
All we want on the Brexit issue is an outcome.

Is the head-scratching, boredom-generating tedium of the Brexit negotiations finally destroying Britain’s interest in politics?

A question being asked by many.

We sit in front of our televisions, night after night, listening to politicians from all parties spout their very rehearsed statements on the latest non-developments in Brussels when all we want is an outcome.

This has become a very long and dark tunnel with little light showing at the end of it, but we are where we are, as often declared by those who don’t really know where we are or care for that matter.

The real problem is what is happening to the rest of the country while Brexit is hanging like a cloud of doom over Europe.

To answer my initial question – is Brexit destroying Britain’s interest in politics – I don’t believe it is.

It’s forcing us to reach for the off button every time the news comes on, but perhaps surprisingly Brexit appears to be creating greater interest in politics but on the local scene.

As chairman of the East Yorkshire Constituency Conservative Association and an East Riding Conservative councillor, there is a strongly held view that Brexit, while doing little to help our national reputation, is resulting in renewed interest in local politics and local issues.

After all, what is more important to us in the East Riding – greater import tariffs on German-built cars or the best possible schools, social care, roads and waste management?

Local elections will be held in the East Riding on 2 May and the campaigning has already begun.

Our group, the Conservatives, has selected a very strong team of candidates, including experienced councillors as well as some new, younger faces, all hard-working individuals who want to be part of one of the best performing local authorities in the country.

We are also enjoying a mini-surge in membership numbers, especially from young people, many of them fearing what the various opposition parties might bring to the table and no one (in my hearing) relishing the thought of another coalition Government.

Regardless of one’s political preference, there is no getting away from the fact that the East Riding of Yorkshire Council is officially recognised as one of the best performing local authorities in the country.

For the past four years, the Conservative Group has enjoyed a big majority at County Hall but this has not been a barrier for non-political debates by committees.

Far from it. Councillors from all groups continue to work together when the best interests of our residents are at stake and we frequently see near-total agreement at full council on matters that affect us all.

For example, at the recent council budget meeting, every attending councillor voted to support the Conservative-led budget proposal for the next financial year – except one, the Independent member for Pocklington.

Does this not clearly demonstrate that while Westminster politicians continue to knock each other to Brexit bits, councillors in the East Riding can work together?