Wisbech deserves better…and so does democracy.

It is a few weeks since the Octavia Hill ward by-election.  I would like, again, to sincerely thank all those who voted for me.  Of course I’m disappointed not to win but more importantly another opportunity, if not to bring change at least to bring forward some challenge and accountability for the majority Tories.  Voters must now start to see the problems which present when there is no strong, informed opposition.
My personal view remains that non-voters provide soft support for the existing regime.  It is never an act of defiance – whatever you might believe.  If you do not vote in Fenland then you are endorsing the Tory candidate.  At times it feels  like a one-party state, and I find it incredible that with long-standing control of all tiers of local government still so much energy is put into challenging the small political opposition rather than any attempt at engagement with the wider community encouraging debate and challenge.  Almost two decades of total political hegemony and still the priority seems to be about consolidating control, and for a few this seems to be an avenue only for personal promotion.
Recent events have only increased my level of anxiety about the local situation. Going back over the past couple of years there have been a steady stream of local politicians who have faced criminal charges as well as conduct hearings. There are now accusations of misconduct against more local Councillors; there seems to be a complete absence of humility or any attempt other than self-preservation.  This is no good for democracy, but it is not just those who stand but also for the electors to ponder.
The local Labour Party has made considerable progress in the past couple of years but we recognise there is much more to do in regaining confidence.  A lot of effort has been made by the small number of activists to improve our campaigning, and we have a set of authentic progressive policies endorsed by local members who care about The Fens.  Many of our candidates are experienced professional people with a wealth of knowledge and skills, all eager to serve.  We are clearly standing for what we believe in rather than naked political ambition.
I joined the Labour Party 30 years ago but I first got involved in local politics when my family moved to Wisbech just 5 years ago.  We saw a heritage town, a great marketplace, and met some wonderful people but could not understand – and I still do not – how people had allowed the town to fall behind so much, so little infrastructure and when we explored further genuine shock at some of the poverty and problems just out of sight.  I had never stood for office before but was angry with what I saw – and frustration at the potential being lost.  The town deserves better.


  1. Sound words, Dean Reeves. I am no fan of the Labour Party in its current form, but the fact that Wisbech does not see fit to have a person as honest and principled as you working for them, speaks volumes about the couldn’t care less electorate. The current councillors ruling group are a sorry crowd. There are a number of older members with good manners, who know how to behave, but they say little and do little. Wielding the power are a handful of people who have realised, to their delight, that the only way they can be removed from position is when one of them commits a criminal offence. These few are malicious, conspiratorial, dishonest and a disgrace to the town. Will things ever change? One day, perhaps, but not in my lifetime.

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