Priorities for spending of tax payers money by both national and local government seem rather perverse to me. I think we all understand that there isn’t enough in the pot to pay for all the things we, the ordinary people, would like but it is the assumption that politicians of all ilks can make decisions based on their personal beliefs without accountability or realistic debate that infuriates me.
Surrey County Council’s attitude to the management of our countryside estate expressed through Cllr Mike Goodman as cabinet member for environment and transport is truly strange and deeply flawed in its application.
For me and many many others it is perfectly reasonable to use taxes to maintain and enhance the countryside both for public access and wildlife. In fact as I wrote the last sentence it struck me just how “reasonable” it is. Why would you imagine anything else when your very own health, both mental and physical, is so interlinked with the health of the countryside?
Many politicians believe that the “user should pay” but this principle is so unequally applied across services as to become empty rhetoric. It’s politically expedient to make noise about Global warming, climate change, international treaties on CO2 emissions, local and national strategies on waste…….the list is endless BUT what about meeting the simple challenge of maintaining and enhancing the local countryside for local people and the wildlife that lives in it?
I do not believe that all “countryside” should be managed by private landowners or NGOs or that it should be dependant on funding subject to the vagaries of whatever grant scheme is politically expedient. Public access countryside is not self sustaining financially, and never will be, if looked at purely as a “direct user pays” revenue earner.
Please do understand that I am also a pragmatist and therefore, sadly, whilst there are politicians like Cllr Goodman and others who stick to their own agenda no matter what, despite advice and consultation, it may well be that all access land should end up owned by NGOs and the existing private landowners.
Think the heat is getting to me!