‘Political parties have failed York. It is time the city went independent’

City of York Council HQ. Photograph: YorkMix
  • Scott Marmion says that the old methods of politics are not working – but he has a solution

Since City of York Council was formed in 1973 the most frequent result has been, “no overall control”. Appropriate as that’s what members have demonstrated time and again, absolutely no control over anything.

The political map of York is split quite evenly between the major parties. So it is hardly a surprise that no party political figure can please everyone. It means safe seats are at a premium, resulting in parties turning in on themselves, looking to get one over on individuals they don’t like while eyeing up their seat.

All the while council officers run rings around them and carry out their vision, or lack of, for the city due to the vacuum of leadership.

Lack of vision

Scott Marmion with Conservative MP for York Outer Julian Sturdy
My time within the York Conservative Party illustrated a frightening lack of vision or debate. When I tried to get two former members back within the group and stop a damaging civil war escalating I was removed from my post as Deputy Chairman Political.

A group that refuses to allow alternative points of view to be heard unpunished has lost all sense of reasoning and will never produce fresh ideas in the face of ever changing circumstances. Such a mindset should never be allowed to hold the reins of power in a democracy.

Other parties are just as bad of course. For example, we see the more moderate people in the Labour Party being hounded out by the far left and who wants such behaviour from those running the city?

Political parties don’t look at the big picture though, they look to the next election. Take the upgrades to the Wetherby Road roundabout currently being built.

Millions spent on the quietist part of the outer ring road which the incumbent councillors will claim demonstrates they take transport improvements seriously. In reality they chose this roundabout because it’s the cheapest.

So rather than saving more money up and then starting on the priority areas with proper flyovers, they chose to burn money today on a cheap political gesture in the run up to the next election. No real ambition, no understanding of priorities and engineering potential.

Speaking out

Scott at Wetherby Road roundabout
While the current coalition has been making a mess of the Local Plan, killing high street shops off, approving reckless development proposals and choking the cities transport arteries there have been a few individuals that would not stay silent.

Take the astonishing victory of Cllr Hayes over the Clifford’s Tower visitor centre or Cllr Warters battling for seven years to reopen a public footpath while other councillors simply stood aloof.

This city needs more independent minds that are motivated to make a difference and who stood, not for the money or prestige of being elected, but to do right by their fellow citizens. Watching these victories has inspired me to stand as an independent myself and I want to put out a rallying call for others to join me.

I want to see the council shaken up from top to bottom, get things moving and stop the endless waste spent on consultations and studies for every trivial issue like a pavement being extended.


I want to see the obscene six figure salaries of some of senior officers cut right back and any that are found trying to obstruct the wishes of the elected members and carry out their own policies, such as the current trend of grinding our roads to a standstill, dismissed from their posts altogether.

I want to see proper long term solutions to fix our roads and shield the city from future floods with bold engineering projects that will solve these problems permanently. These things matter, the small issues in party junk mail every few months ought to be dealt with automatically; and they would be if the system at the heart of the council functioned properly.

A rallying cry

Cllr Johnny Hayes talking to protesters at the ‘Not In The Motte’ demo in March. Photograph: YorkMix
It’s time to stop voting for a candidate based on the colour of their badge, that badge is a bind on the wearer to obey their party leader, not you the electorate.

If enough independent minds come together for the common good then we can take our city back from these people who just sign off papers put in front of them without thinking for themselves.

The established political parties are weak and fractured, hence now is the time for us, the people of York to reassert our democratic authority over these failed politicians with a fresh pool of talent that are truly free to represent us.

Let this be a rallying cry to those that want to change the way the council is run and to bring independent minds together for the common good.

For anybody interested in helping create a new movement of independent politicians, regardless of your personal politics, then you can contact me by email at yorkindependentminds@gmail.com.

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