‘We haven’t seen a politician here for many years’

Coun John Reynolds
Coun John Reynolds

A community “listening exercise” revealed what people in north Lancashire villages are particularly concerned about.

Carnforth City Coun John Reynolds said he visited residents in Priest Hutton, Borwick, Arkholme, Silverdale and Warton to find out what mattered most to them.

Coun Reynolds, who said he will be standing in the county council elections for currently vacant seat Lancashire Rural North, said people felt that national politics had taken over the debate.

He said: “When I headed out into the villages people said ‘We’ve not seen a politician around here for years’, or ‘if you’re from the Labour Party you must be quite brave’.

“But when we got into the detail, what came across very strongly is that national politics has taken over the debate, and people are feeling very distant from it. They don’t feel like it has any relevance or bearing on their everyday lives.”

Coun Rynolds said when asked what was important to them, people told him about the holes in the roads, the threat to library services, the loss of the bus service.

He said: “It’s about hedgerows that haven’t been cut back. It’s about local issues.

“People say they have spoken to the council about issues, but that ‘nothing ever changes’.

“There’s this disconnect about what people expect and what’s actually delivered.

“I know that the council officers work very hard to respond where possible, and I know that if something is important to the community, the way you present it, coupled with persistence, can mean the difference between something getting done and something not getting done.

“That’s the job of a councillor and I’m passionate about re-connecting with people.”

For the past several months, Lancaster Rural North has been without a county councillor after Conservative Coun Alycia James failed to attend. Coun Reynolds added: “In Silverdale there are worries about the fire station and fire crews, about flooding, and about GP surgeries.

“In all of the communities we visited planning and housing was high on the list.

“People aren’t ‘NIMBYs’, but they’re asking the question ‘is this sustainable?’

“Not one person said ‘we shouldn’t be building houses. People want to carry on living in their communities, or they want their children to be able to afford a home of their own and stay close to their families, or people want the option to downsize but not have to move out of their village.

“In Carnforth, people feel that it’s the developers with the ear of the council, and that their points of view are ignored.”