Yesterday, the Leader of Herefordshire County Council published an apology on this site that is not only welcome but gives some encouragement to all those campaigning for better local government.
Councillor Phillips was apologising to a local resident, Mr Hubbard, who had been sent a threatening letter ordering him to stop cutting the grass verge outside his home. His public-spirited behaviour, the letter suggested, was harming the appearance of the street by showing up the poor maintenance of the other verges, which the council had allowed to become overgrown, and he was ordered to stop.
Mr Hubbard’s experience is unfortunately not an uncommon one. All too often council officials become too fond of throwing their weight around and find it easiest to throw it at law-abiding soft targets rather than at truly problematic residents. He should have been congratulated and thanked for his efforts to make the street a nicer place, not threatened.
The outcome of this case is a pleasing one, though – and Councillor Phillips is to be congratulated for having the good sense to set this right and the decency to apologise. There is a lesson for all of us, too: if you stand up and object to poor service, high taxes or waste in your council, it is possible to win.