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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

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Do we all need a Boris of our own?

Having a pop at the council has long been a national pastime in Britain.

If anything goes wrong, the knee-jerk reaction, the default setting, is to blame those in the county or town hall.

Local authorities are sitting targets for the upset, the angry and the downright bored.

There’s no doubt there’s a steady rise in the number of people who are distrustful, cynical and fed up of their local councils.

It has gone beyond wanting value for money and a regular bin service.

They feel too distant from their local decisions makers, undervalued and ignored.

Usually, this results in a listless apathy, a few angry emails and a shrug of the

shoulders as people agree ‘there’s nothing we can do about it, they’re all as bad as each other’.

In Whitehaven, locals have decided to take things into their own hands.

Enough have signed a petition to force Copeland Council to stage a referendum on whether an elected mayor should be voted in.

On May 22 this is likely to become a reality.

The hope is that the new mayor will be able to raise the profile of the town, drum up more money and interest and improve its dowdy, down-at-heel image.

While it is sad that the situation has degraded so far in Copeland, it is heartening to see people taking positive action and trying to do something themselves to improve the situation, rather than sit around and moan.

The campaigners are also aiming to establish a town council.

There’s no doubt that Whitehaven is a lovely seaside town, it has some beautiful buildings and an attractive harbour area that has been revived with some serious investment.

But the town itself does look tatty and unloved. There are too many takeaways, bookies and cheque cashing businesses.

It needs a bit of TLC and bit more care and attention.

Whether a new mayor and even town council will be able to provide that and kick start the local economy remains to be seen.

But you can’t accuse the locals for not trying.

They criticise, but they are prepared to roll up their sleeves and give it their best shot.

Perhaps more of us across Cumbria should take a leaf out of their book.

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