'Fringe parties are good for local democracy' says departing Green councillor

Watford Observer: 'Fringe parties are good for local democracy' says departing Green councillor 'Fringe parties are good for local democracy' says departing Green councillor

Minority parties need to survive in Watford to prevent the mainstream parties lapsing into complacency, a departing Green councillor has said.

Steve Rackett, who resigned this week after ten years representing Callowland on Watford Borough, said independents and fringe parties were good for local democracy.

The 49-year-old, who leaving to take up a job outside the county, also said elected politicians should be barred from do more than three terms.

Speaking to the Watford Observer this week, Mr Rackett said: "It is important to have one or two councillors outside the political mainstream. Whether you agree with them or not, it is good for democracy to have Malcolm (Meerabux), or the Greens, or UKIP. It gives a shock to the main three parties from their complacency to have some from the outside looking in."

Mr Rackett was first elected in 2003 to his seat in Callowland and the again in 2007 and 2011.

He also represented the area on Hertfordshire County Council between 2005 and 2009. During his time the Greens have taken and held all three borough seats in the Callowland ward.

Reflecting on his time at the council, Mr Rackett said he thought the councillors should more active scrutinising large projects such as the health campus.

He said: "Half the money is going into this when we don’t even know where what buildings are going where. It’s a fantasy."

Mr Rackett also said he felt that elected mayors and councillors should be stopped from running for more than three terms.

He added: "I was never going to do more than three terms (as a councillor) and a passionately believe nobody should.

"In America there are safeguards that don’t allow you to do three terms."

Comments (2)

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12:38am Fri 4 Apr 14

D_Penn says...

I agree the council needs a better political mix. It is not good to have one party with absolute control. We need more balance so that on important issues a more rigorous decision making process takes place with input coming from a wide range of viewpoints rather than from a narrow single party view as now.

The current situation in Watford is that the Liberal Democrats have a very clear majority and so can make decisions on upcoming issues outside of the Council Chamber before meetings. Once the actual meeting begins any debate is moot because the decision on which way to block vote has already been made at a Liberal Democrat gathering beforehand. Whatever argument the minority councillors present, when the vote is called for the Liberal Democrats press the pre-decided voting button and that's that.

Of course, the same approach occurs in many different councils across the country where one party has too much control. It's bad for local people because it often means that good dissenting viewpoints are not given due consideration. That lack of challenge can result in complacency and closed-minded decision making which can lead to badly flawed outcomes.

This is a problem we see here in Watford where the Lib Dems have had it too much their way for too long - the health campus fiasco being a prime example. I hope and expect we will see a significant change in the coming elections because that would be good news for Watford.
I agree the council needs a better political mix. It is not good to have one party with absolute control. We need more balance so that on important issues a more rigorous decision making process takes place with input coming from a wide range of viewpoints rather than from a narrow single party view as now. The current situation in Watford is that the Liberal Democrats have a very clear majority and so can make decisions on upcoming issues outside of the Council Chamber before meetings. Once the actual meeting begins any debate is moot because the decision on which way to block vote has already been made at a Liberal Democrat gathering beforehand. Whatever argument the minority councillors present, when the vote is called for the Liberal Democrats press the pre-decided voting button and that's that. Of course, the same approach occurs in many different councils across the country where one party has too much control. It's bad for local people because it often means that good dissenting viewpoints are not given due consideration. That lack of challenge can result in complacency and closed-minded decision making which can lead to badly flawed outcomes. This is a problem we see here in Watford where the Lib Dems have had it too much their way for too long - the health campus fiasco being a prime example. I hope and expect we will see a significant change in the coming elections because that would be good news for Watford. D_Penn
  • Score: -3

5:14pm Fri 4 Apr 14

Wacko Jacko says...

Mr Rackett makes a valid point about the benefits of having one or two councillors outside the mainstream, don't they say it is the grit that produces the pear? An issue here in Watford is that the main opposition parties are basically dysfunctional and incapable of fielding credible candidates. The conservatives have sunk without trace through damaging in-fighting and Labour councillors seem to be no more than puppet mouthpieces for a mysterious unelected party leader. In short there is no credible opposition.
Mr Rackett makes a valid point about the benefits of having one or two councillors outside the mainstream, don't they say it is the grit that produces the pear? An issue here in Watford is that the main opposition parties are basically dysfunctional and incapable of fielding credible candidates. The conservatives have sunk without trace through damaging in-fighting and Labour councillors seem to be no more than puppet mouthpieces for a mysterious unelected party leader. In short there is no credible opposition. Wacko Jacko
  • Score: 0

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