The Unitary Shadow Council's meeting (Wed 20/02/2019) was depressing.

At central issue were several proposed amendments by opposition parties that would have given minor measures of relief to some of the most desperate people in the county.

My prime interest (though not a personal one) was the proposal to add a comparatively small sum to address some of the defects in the already dysfunctional Special Educational Needs and Disability provision (SEND). Two mothers struggling with quite inadequate support gave articulate and genuinely moving accounts of their difficulties, making it clear that these were representative of many other cases. The Conservative councillors, even in the early stages of the meeting, fiddled with their mobile phones and made their boredom quite clear. The courage of those speakers at least deserved some acknowledgement, but none came from the ruling party's members.

As speakers from the various opposition parties (Green, Lib-Dem, and Labour) presented clearly argued and cogent submissions, the level of boredom in the Conservative ranks became openly offensive. Some even appeared to be playing video games, so intense was their fiddling and scrutiny of their laptops.

The votes made clear that debate had been superfluous, the massed ranks of the ruling party voting to the party line.

Even more depressing than the sidestepping of effective democratic debate was the insensitivity openly displayed by the ruling party to electors with real problems who had come hoping for succour and received only contemptuous dismissal.

We have local elections in May. I hope decent people, presented with candidates who long ago sacrificed their humanity to the interests of their party, will dispatch them to the distant galaxies from which they came, and elect some human beings in their place.

Yours sincerely

Barry Tempest