At the Notts and Derby Chamber of Commerce mayor debate in Councillor Graham Chapman, the Deputy Leader of Nottingham City Council had the odds stacked against him.
Not only was he battling the prevailing wind of change, he was outnumbered three to one on the panel.
He should have been OK, he’s as bright as two of us ordinary folk, but one of his opponents was Lord Andrew Adonis and he’s as smart as all three of us.
A question from the floor challenged Councillor Chapman on the council’s record, in particular for tackling deprivation. The tight boundary is relevant to the mayor debate and to the statistics that put Nottingham towards the bottom of the wealth league table.
Not including West Bridgford and Arnold and Bulcote (Nottingham’s best kept secret) in any assessment of Nottingham when compared to places like Leeds and Sheffield which include leafier*, wealthier suburbs is perverse, but we are stuck with it, unless and until we do something about it.
It’s the journey that counts. Schools should be judged on how improved are a child’s prospects given where they started out in life, or how they spent their early years, as well as on the number of exams that are eventually passed.
A council should be judged on the impact it has on relative deprivation, the extent to which lives have been improved and opportunities increased for those less well off, as well as on the overall wealth-health of the city compared with others.
Nottingham is moving up the wealth table and those living in less well off communities are relatively better off than they were.
New schools and swimming pools, cleaner streets and crime halved, improvement works to thousands of council houses, Nottingham Contemporary, the tram, Old Market Square, Splendour. Credit is due.
When work to build the tram started lots of people said they didn’t want it. Who would give it up now? You might not like the Workplace Parking Levy or the five-term year but that’s not the point. This is not a protest vote.
The referendum asks only about democratic principle.
Put simply, “Do you want the person who leads Nottingham to be chosen by councillors from one political party or should everyone get to vote?
Councillor Chapman prefers the former.
I prefer a leader we all choose.
Whatever you call her.
* Not really, all Nottingham’s neighbourhoods are as leafy as anywhere, probably more so. This is Sherwood Forest.
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I wrote about the boundary here.