What have the councils done?

The letter from Cllr David Barker (March 15) about the rundown state of parts of Matlock Bath, prompts me to write concerning the public realm in Matlock itself, and the apparent lack of concern shown by the powers that be, of both county and district councils (and how accessible are the senior officers of those councils?).

Apart from the re-paving and enhancement scheme in Crown Square carried out largely thanks to Sainsbury’s, plus external funding, with design help from the Civic Association and of course the mainly Heritage Lottery funded facelift for Hall Leys Park, I can think of very few contributions to our town’s fabric by either of the two principle councils.

However, many smaller schemes have been carried out, but they were designed and implemented by Matlock Civic Association (thanks mainly to Ken Parker’s drive and initiative); myself working with the town council to procure many projects; and the enthusiastic volunteers on the Matlock in Bloom Committee.

Last but not least, is Transition Matlock, whose members are striving to achieve environmental successes in our primary schools and on other sites, such as the excellent new Community Orchard off Megdale.

The campaign for new allotments will be another success, provided the county council can be persuaded to back their fine words with a small financial commitment.

In spite of the Government’s so called Big Society and community empowerment via the Localism Act, it now appears to many of us that our two big councils are ignoring demands to adequately maintain their infrastructure and amenity sites, while refusing to allow local groups of eager volunteers to do some of the work on their behalf.

Therefore, many of us with relevant experience and skills are finding our hands tied and unable to contribute as we would like.

For instance, in recent weeks Matlock in Bloom members have been struggling to get permission from the district council to clear rubbish and undergrowth from at least two sites.

There is also growing evidence of local councils allowing environmental decline, for example an appalling standard of design and landscaping apparently tolerated on Derwent Way; the desecration of amenity trees in Wishingstone Way; and the apparent refusal to adopt urban tree planting and other amenity features carried out by others, to mention just a few.

Surely, we should expect our local authorities to adopt, for once, a ‘can do’ mentality and agree to work seriously and I hope productively with many civic and green-minded residents?

Martin Burfoot

Matlock