Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

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Election Result

Andrew explaining to government minister Hazel Blears the intricacy of scissors, paper, stone.

Andrew explaining to government minister Hazel Blears the intricacy of scissors, paper, stone.

Triumphant Andrew Cartwright ‘happy to be back’

‘There’s nothing more political than a lamppost’

The Voice spoke to returning Gensing councillor Andrew Cartwright about his plans. ‘I’m happy to be back. It’s great to have a good reason to be talking to so many people. It’s also good to get back to unfinished business from my last term. Of course, I’ve also got a long list of new issues raised by residents during the campaign, but there’s always room for more.
 ‘Many of the issues raised have been to do with the state of the roads and the pavements. Frustratingly, these are the County Council’s responsibility, but I have to find a way of getting them to deal with it. On a mundane level this is about ‘pavement politics’, but on another level it’s about improving local democracy. I want national government to put power back in local hands. Local people are paying for these things to be done, but they don’t have the power to do anything about it. What Gordon Brown is saying about strengthening local democracy is what I’m talking about.
 ‘Mr Blair’s government gave us initiatives like the neighbourhood renewal forums – I am still involved with one myself – but the Blair years have seen only modest successes in strengthening local democracy in Hastings. On that score, I see it as a big part of my role to give people access to information. The Freedom of Information Act entitles people to know more than they sometimes realise.’
 Andrew pointed to the perennial problems of litter, antisocial behaviour and parking, but also to the proposed introduction of a twin-bin scheme for Hastings and St Leonards. ‘Local residents are upset about it, and unfortunately I can’t change the decision. But it must be implemented properly. As is often the case, the devil is in the detail, particularly for the older parts of Hastings.’
 Andrew’s biggest gripe   is with big organisations not taking their share of reponsibility. ‘The bigger the organisation, the more important it is that they set a good example. The County Council’s failure to look after the town’s roads and pavements properly affects us all, but being only a small part of their overall constituency, local people have a limited ability to make their feelings known. In the end it’s about where you think it’s important to spend the money. I always say there’s nothing more political than a lamppost. If you’re willing to invest money in a lamppost then it means you want to feel safe. Even though it’s their responsibility, the County Council have refused to pay for most of the hundreds of lampposts that have been installed all over the town in recent years. A high priority is doing the things that enable us to have a strong community.’
In the meantime, Andrew says that part of his task is always to be finding out what the issues are. ‘I’d be very grateful to any residents who write to me with any issue. I’ll always follow it up.’

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