Who do you speak for?

I’m very wary of those that stand up in public and claim to speak for us, even those who have a mandate to speak by virtue of the ballot box. Even they cannot claim to speak on behalf of everyone. So the story on page 5 of today’s Beds On Sunday, under the headline ” ‘Make town strip club exclusion zone’ call as Pad plan rejected”, made interesting reading.
Campaigners against the strip club application have, through the use of licensing laws and appeals to the locally elected representatives, successfully blocked it. The report goes on to give the views of some of the campaigners and this is where things start to worry me.
According to the BOS report, “At the meeting, objectors told councillors they found the idea ‘offensive’ with some even quoting from The Bible” and someone claimed to  have come on behalf of many women in Bedford and urged them to ‘stand with Bunyan for the town”. I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds like it harks back to a golden age where the majority of the population of this country had very few rights, other than to serve their masters.
The report then goes on to report that someone from “Castle Road, Bedford, says she wants the council to introduce a ‘zero policy’ on such venue licences meaning that no applications could be submitted to the authority.” A former councillor added, “I think there’s overwhelming support to say ‘zero’ in Bedford – they turned the licence down for Saints & Sinners and now for Lurke Street so enough’s enough.”
I believe there were around a thousand objections to the application for a license. That’s quite a high number, but no one can make the leap to claiming overwhelming support to say “zero” in Bedford.
So not content with blocking this application, they now want Bedford Licensing Authority to submit to their bidding and block all such licenses, even before they go to the Licensing Committee. I wonder who they speak for? I wonder where their mandate comes from? I wonder who voted for these people, that they can move from objecting to one particular application, to claiming this gives them a mandate to block all such applications. Even claiming that no one should be allowed to submit any such application to the council in the future.
This is a worrying step. To argue in a way that assumes they are the moral conscience for all of us is extremely dangerous, and smacks of the movements operating in the US, “If we don’t like it, then it’s offensive and should be stopped”.
Are these the same people who stopped an innocent business application for a fish and chip shop on Castle Road?  Or had the bench removed from Castle Road? I don’t know, but they are becoming a problem. When they start claiming to speak for me and the people I talk to I find that offensive.
Bedford is the place where I and my family, live, work and play. We are quite capable of making our own decisions. We don’t need anyone to be our moral guardian. And we don’t need anyone to impose their view of what Bedford should be like, we have our own view.
The sale of The Pad was part of a business proposal to bring more live music into Bedford Town Centre. To bring more live music to the bigger venue. To bring a greater variety of music to Bedford. The owners of The Pad have worked long and hard to support live music in Bedford. They had plans to move Bedford’s Town Centre live music scene to the next level. Now that will not happen. It cannot take place. They will continue to keep The Pad alive, and Pad lovers should support them all the way, like you did last night, with a massive turnout. Pad Entertainments will continue to bring live music into Bedford, but running The Pad will mean there is not as much time for other things.
But hey we don’t have to worry about a gentleman’s club.
It’s time to stand up, support The Pad, and make sure that no one can ever again make the claim that they speak for us.
I do like the idea of a chip shop on Castle Road, not out of place with everything else on there. I’ll be speaking with the owner of the business to find out if he’s interested in having another go. I’m sure he’d appreciate offers of help. A twitter and facebook campaign for a chippy on Castle Road will be very popular, possibly more popular than a campaign against. What does evryone think?

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