Stealthy switch

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Inspire, the local company managing leisure facilities in the area, has done outstandingly well and exceeded targets set by the council (Gazette, February 5).

A ‘not for profit company’, Inspire has ploughed surplus cash into the community from which it springs. “Bravo!” I say. But all they get from Sports Consultancy, paid to administer the next contract renewal, is a raspberry and a loud “Boo!” The consultants have told Inspire: “Don’t apply for the next contract, this is for the big boys. It doesn’t matter that their records elsewhere are not as good as yours. Tough, Inspire!”

Paul Dendle, an Arun cabinet member (remember when we used to have just councillors?) tells us he is confident we will be delivered ‘the best value for money for the council and community’. Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?

A company, Sports Consultancy, no doubt handsomely paid, has taken over decisions which should be being made by the people we have democratically elected. But the council has sold out to the private sector. And if you think that’s always a good idea, or that local people should have no say in their own affairs, just look at the recent BUPA farce in our local hospitals.

Political power is shifting from the people to the wealthy companies – another rip in the tattered flag of our democracy. In so many areas a succession of governments have flogged off our public assets cheaply, removing important areas of our lives from Parliament and therefore our control – look at the railways, telephones, power companies, the post office and, despite politicians’ protestations, the NHS. Now local Government, no doubt under national Government guidance, or pressure, appears to be doing the same.

Like many people, I think that it is important that we use our votes, however jaded and disillusioned we might feel at the antics of some politicians. But I shall not be voting for anyone who seeks to continue to increase the power of the business community above that of ordinary people. This is what appears to be happening in the renewal of Arun’s leisure services contract next year.

Common sense has gone to the wind. I’ve no doubt it’s all being done by the book – but the book seems to be robbing us of some of our power and influence. And that’s dangerous.

Douglas Stewart

St Catherine’s Court

Irvine Road

Littlehampton

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