Richmond-upon-Thames Conservatives have pledged that if they take control of their local council from the Lib Dems in May they will give a Cabinet Member the role of Older People's Champion. Giving some priority to the elderly strikes me as entirely reasonable. Only yesterday I sent an email asking for priority gritting by the entrance to a sheltered accommodation block in my ward. The Richmond Tories point out that the elderly can be particularly vulnerable to broken paving stones – a subject the Lib Dems built up their municipal strength by emphasising but which they have failed to deal with in power. Small things like reserved parking spaces near the exits at car parks can help pensioners a lot.
The Lib Dems respond that many pensioners are "very fit" which is true but misses the point of helping those who aren't. Also the Conservative initiative is not just to help pensioners but the rest of us.
Cllr. Nicholas True, the Conservative opposition leader says:
“We will be launching initiatives to engage with older people. This will include a Help Us Help Others programme, developed in partnership with voluntary bodies to unlock the skills and experience of retired people to help in volunteering in our communities."
The Richmond Council Lib Dems have also denounced that idea of such a post as "patronising." How odd. I wonder what their Lib Dem colleagues elsewhere who hold such a role feel about this. Such as Cllr Lynda Wilkinson, the Lib Dem Older Peoples' Champion on Kirklees Council, Cllr Malcolm Morland, the Lib Dem Older People's Champion in North East Lincolnshire, Cllr Peter May, the Lib Dem Older People's Champion for Swansea or Cllr Keith Hyman, Lib Dem Older People's Champion for York.
I'm all for localism but the degree of contradiction and incoherence from the Lib Dems is immense. At the Mayor of London's Question Time on December 16 one of their London Assembly reps Mike Tuffrey kept a straight face while scolding Boris Johnson for a failure to cut spending. Why hadn't the number of press officers been cut more, etc. All good stuff. But Tony Arbour, a Richmond Conservative councillor and London Assembly Member gently pointed out that it was Lib Dem councils in London that had the highest Council Tax levels. Mr Tuffrey went a bit quiet. The Lib Dems complain about being ignored by the media but the lack of media scrutiny lets them get away with an awful lot.