E-Mail from John Illingworth

Webmaster to the Kirkstall Valley Campaign

Dear Ian,

I enjoyed your website. At times it had me howling with laughter, at others almost in tears. I agreed with many of your comments about our rotten system, and in particular with the utter uselessness of the Ombudsman's office, and the calculated ineffectiveness of many "official" investigations. Even when pushed to the point of absurdity, most people in public life will never admit that they were wrong.

I am sure that you are correct in saying that property speculation is the engine which drives the system, and that our Town & Country Planning system is fundamentally, institutionally corrupt. In my experience, old fashioned "cash in hand" bribes are relatively uncommon, mostly it is people doing favours for their friends, favours which eventually will certainly be repaid.

I think you did very well in the relatively short time that you served on the council. I had been a councillor in Leeds for about ten years before I caught a colleague in a bare-faced lie, and the scales were lifted from my eyes. I also had some lucky breaks: a trainee secretary who gave me the "wrong" set of files, and an officer who took an extended lunch after suggesting where to look...

I feel that our system massively fails most ordinary electors, and for this reason many people are turning their backs on it. This is worrying: low turnouts may lead to demagogues and extremists, who may be no less corrupt, and extremely unpleasant as well.

I am glad that you liked my website, although it badly needs updating with all the additional things that have subsequently come to light. The process is like peeling an onion: you think you have reached the inside, but there is often another layer.

One of the saddest things is the way in which ordinary decent people can be hoodwinked because they have no time to check and necessarily take things on trust. In my experience most people do their best, and suffer only normal human weakness, but there are some real slime balls as well.

Best wishes,

John Illingworth.

The Kirkstall Valley Campaign

It tells of a ten-year struggle by people living near the Kirkstall Valley in Leeds to run their own lives without outside interference. It describes our experience with big business, city bosses, lawyers, politicians, property developers, and the whole rag-bag of parasites and hangers-on who walk the corridors of power. It tells you how to work the British legal and political systems, and how, very often, those systems fail to protect the public interest. You can learn by our mistakes, and our successes, what you should do when your own community is in the firing line. We can help you, but you could also help us. If, like us, you believe in democracy, equality and truthfulness, then click here to find out what you can do.


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