10:36 Tuesday 23 October 2012
Mid Morning Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
ANDY HARPER: On the line is Geoff Heathcock. Geoff is the Liberal Democrat county councillor for Queen Edith ward in Cambridge. Or is it? Because under the boundary changes it would now be in the newly redrawn South East Cambridgeshire constituency, along with Soham and Fordham. I’ve looked at this map Geoff, and I seriously just wonder if somebody just got a felt-tip pen and went round, and then thought, ooh, Queen Edith. We’ll go round that bit as well.
GEOFF HEATHCOCK: Well yes it’s one conclusion. I’ve made the observation that I think this is utterly and completely nonsensical. We have been shunted around now for some years. When we came out of the Cambridgeshire constituency, many years ago, when they were looking to create a seventh seat in the county, because (of) the population, we were then called South West Cambridgeshire, which stretched the other side of St Neots to the Bedfordshire border and all the way round. Then we were played with again on the last shunt, when they decided that they would bring Trumpington, if you like, in from the cold so to speak, and put them back in the city. And we are the forgotten ward of the city. We are in every sense part of Cambridge. I have made strong representations to (the) Boundary Commission last time and again this time that we are part of Cambridge, historically, geographically. We elect three city councillors to the City Council. We pay council tax to the City Council. We are on the city network of buses. And so I could go on.
ANDY HARPER: Yes.
GEOFF HEATHCOCK: It’s absolutely ridiculous.
ANDY HARPER: Anybody familiar with this part of the city knows exactly that it is part of the city, and that’s the end of the story. But is it worth getting hot under the collar about Geoff? Because the Liberal Democrats have said they won’t vote for these changes now, because they’ve had disputes with the Conservatives in government.
GEOFF HEATHCOCK: Well there is those silly antics going on in Westminster, and obviously for the most part I don’t spend too much time frankly Andy watching what is or is not going on in Westminster in the context of the two parties that are the Coalition. What I’m more concerned about, and this is why I am hot under the collar, is that Queen Edith is given the sort of representation that they deserve. Why should we be out in the cold any more than Arbury or Newnham, or Cherry Hinton for that matter which is our next door neighbour? It just seems to me yet again, and this is the third time in my political life in Cambridge, that we have been tacked on, or fobbed off actually is what I prefer it to be, on to another constituency in which we have absolutely no allegiance or anything in common. No disrespect to (indecipherable). Queen Edith is not a market town or a large village. It is in every sense a large community, part of Cambridge, and that is where it belongs. And it should therefore be part of the Cambridge constituency.
ANDY HARPER: Now it matters to you, because you are a politician, and you are part of the area of course. But do you think it matters to the general voter? Do you think that the good people of what we call Queen Edith ward are that bothered?
GEOFF HEATHCOCK: Well judging by the number of phone calls and emails I have had already in the last few days, as people actually realise what the latest hare-brained possibility is, yes they are getting worked up about it. Every election we have here, people often .. I don’t say everyone that we’ve talked to, but certainly a large percentage of the people we talk to on the doorsteps, both during the year and at election times, will say, why are we part of a large rural parliamentary constituency. And then inevitably we go through the history lesson. People in this ward who are concerned, and I appreciate not everybody will be, not everybody will necessarily have yet perhaps cottoned on to the fact that we are to be moved yet again. Those that have cottoned on, and those who have looked at the proposals, are upset, are concerned, and in many cases extremely angry, to the extent that some of them are saying, well if this is how we’re going to be treated, we won’t even bother to vote for a Member of Parliament at a future election. So there is a variation of views, obviously. And I appreciate that some people, yes it will pass them by, because they’ve got other things, other more important things to worry about today. But those that are aware, those that are concerned with what’s going on, feel very, very very cheated. I feel cheated. And I’m very very angry about it.
ANDY HARPER: I just can’t let you go Geoff without referring to the story on the front page of the Cambridge News today, and that’s you with one of your constituents, who’s being asked to pay £84 just because she’s planted some flowers to make where she lives look nicer.
GEOFF HEATHCOCK: Yes. Well again it’s another example, if we have to find any, and we seem to find these almost on a regular basis, of bureaucracy gone mad, of a local authority that is not using its common sense. And it’s not actually giving support in the true spirit of how they should be operating, to people who show initiative to actually improve their community. This isn’t somebody coming along who wants to desecrate it, which is what the problem is that we normally have to deal with. This is someone showing some initiative, welcome initiative, trying to make a difference. And then some official comes along and says oh but you can’t do that. You have to have a license. I mean it’s bureaucracy gone absolutely off the wall.
ANDY HARPER: Geoff, as ever, good to talk to you. Thanks for joining is.