Yesterday, I took part in the march against the congestion control points. I won't be discussing the proposals directly in this post (I've already done that elsewhere), but talk about something that was said at the rally on Parkers Piece:
"This is not about politics"
On the contrary, this is precisely about politics. This is what politics is all about. Politics is not a dirty word, it's not the purvue of the politicians, it's the process of making decisions that affect the community as a whole. Most decisions are pretty uncontroversial, and just happen behind the scenes. But when controversial decisions are taken, politics surfaces and you get marches on the streets.
This is why its so important for politicians to listen - politicians are only a small part of the community, and (more often then not) don't have the same range of backgrounds as their community as a whole. Whilst they represent their community, they don't have the same range of experiences and opinions as everyone in the community they represent. So they need to listen. They need to go and talk to people, talk to those whom they represent, and ensure that they have taken the whole range of views and opinions into account when they make their decisions.
This is why it is so dangerous when politicians assume they know what their community wants and needs on controversial decisions. The City Deal is a prime example - the only solution to congestion they're considering is the control points. Congestion in Cambridge is a difficult problem - there is no easy, obvious fix; there are downsides to all the possible solutions, and doing nothing is not an option. But the politicians involved in the City Deal have assumed that they know what their community wants, and so have assumed that PCCPs are the correct way to improve the congestion problem, and are basing everything on that solution, not even offering alternatives in the consultations.
As a result, people feel they haven't been listened to, that their opinions have been ignored or not considered. And these proposals will cause huge problems for a lot of people. So they do what they can to get their views across - marching through Cambridge.
Controversial decisions will invariably benefit some people and disadvantage others, but that's why it's important to talk to and listen to everyone's concerns beforehand, so that when the final decision is taken everyone can see and understand the tradeoffs made.
This is why politics matters.