Libby Local, Episode 10: “Stalled!”

The day after a crazed man confronted me in Demsbury, Mark, the local community support officer came to see me. I had met him at a number of police and community meetings and we get on well.

Mark told me quite a bit about the man who confronted me. Whenever trouble erupted in Demsbury, it was like as not that this man was at the heart of it. Yet, because he mostly engaged in petty crimes and antisocial behaviour, they could do little to control him.

It was all rather depressing. Mark was very thorough, giving me advice on victim support. When I told him that I wanted to make tackling this type of crime a campaigning issue, he talked me through the pattern of crime in Demsbury. I was really surprised that the town has around 20% more crime that the regional average. Although Demsbury is hardly a hotbed of criminal activity, every crime leaves victims and increases fear and concern for personal safety.

A few days later, my temperature soared and I retired to bed. The flu was so bad I hadn’t the energy to pick up a glass of water despite a raging thirst, and I was bed ridden for two days. As always, Melissa rushed around to nurse me to health.

It was more than a week before I was out and about, moving slowly over the packed ice on the pavements. Only a few central footpaths in the centre of the town are routinely cleared of snow and ice by the council. This always makes me angry, as Demsbury is a town where a lot of people walk to the shops rather than use the car or a bus.

Just as I was thinking the pavements were too dangerous to walk on, an elderly lady slipped on ice a short distance ahead of me. She landed on the pavement with a heavy thud. A small group of people huddled around to comfort her as we waited for the paramedics. As the unfortunate lady was stretchered into an ambulance, people shared their experiences of venturing onto Demsbury pavements after snow.

They had all suffered incidents over the years, and one broke his hand only last year. I said we had to solve it. Most of my small crowd thought that council officers should be out clearing the pavements, rather than sitting in their offices. I am not so sure that is either feasible or the best answer. I think we need to organise volunteer snow and ice patrols. I mentally added another campaign issue to my growing list – the icy streets of Demsbury.

It’s not been a good few weeks but there are broader problems looming.

February the 2nd has passed me by. There are less than three months until election day. So much needs to be done. Too little is getting done.

Melissa dropped by for a coffee and laid it on the line. “You’ve yet to publish a Focus newsletter. All you have is a small entry in the Libbyshire edition. You need your own.”

Before I could agree, she continued. “You have yet to knock on doors. You’ve done it for other people but not for yourself.”

I nodded. Mel was as usual right.

“How much help are the other Lib Dems giving you?” she asked pointedly.

“Well there’s the material from ALDC and we had a Kickstart training day. And that’s about it really,” I admitted.

“Well, that amounts to little more than diddly squat,” Mel grumbled. “Face up it. You are being left to campaign almost on your own.”

“I think entirely on my own would be a better description,” I admitted rather glumly.

“Right” Mel said crossing her arms. “This campaign has stalled! Just how are we going to solve that?”

* Libby Local is based on real events. Details have been changed to protect the innocent and disguise the guilty. Libby’s passion and determination, along with her angst and frustration, are set to be a regular feature of Lib Dem Voice as the May 2013 elections approach. You can catch up with all Libby Local's episodes to date by clicking here.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Alex Harvey 10th Feb '13 - 7:17pm

    You haven’t knocked on any doors?

  • Michael Parsons 11th Feb '13 - 9:31am

    Why is the idea that the Council Officers should be out clearing the snow a bad one? They are supposed to be devoted to public service, and the idea of “management” and “targets” is out-of-date and not working (look at the NHS in Stafford etc. or at LA’s) Services could be better run as cooperatives with everyone joining to carry out the agreed actions, rather than being paid to get someone else to do it and attempting remote control. I believe Selby has tried this idea? It sounds democratic and liberal rather than hierarchical and oligarchic at least

  • Ed Shepherd 11th Feb '13 - 7:49pm

    This idea about “voluntary snow patrols” and “council officers” clearing the snow… Why not pay people to clear the snow? There are millions of unemployed people. Perhaps you could campaign for higher funding for local authorities so as to faciliate people being paid to do work? Do you think MPs work for free? Or cabinet ministers? Or political party leaders? Why should poor people have to work for free whilst the wealthy have to be paid? Surely work is work and should be paid for at a living wage? If there is not enough funding at the council to pay for important services then that indicates there is a funding problem for local government sevices? Just out of interest, Libby, what do you do for money? I always ask that question of someone before voting for them.

  • Total difference between the really horrible slog of campaigning on your own and the difference in your morale when you cover a whole polling district with 6 people x 5 hours 

    I don’t think Libby is a “how to do it” manual. I think she is a “how people end up doing it” a lot of the time – that’s why I think it’s a valuable exercise.

    And also comments very interesting – people more concerned that Libby hasn’t knocked on any doors yet and very quick to judge rather than the glaring fact that nobody is supporting her from the local party and encouraging/helping/training her……

    People aren’t born campaigners, they have to be made.

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