Opinion: Pay attention councillors!

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THIS newspaper has for the past year been highlighting the risks and challenges to elected members of the council about their behaviour in these times of austerity.

As pressure on council budgets takes its toll and services are reduced, we have been stressing the point that councillors will be under more pressure to validate their role.

They draw not inconsiderable expenses and special responsibility allowances - something we understand.

However, as those who elect these people to a position of responsibility, we have a right for the council to justify its policies and its demands on our finances to pay for dwindling services.

We have already criticised councillors for failing to reply to the people of Stocksbridge when written to about why their leisure centre is closing.

And now we see another example of disinterest from some councillors when attending a debate about Sheffield airport.

It may not be something high on their agenda, however, when members of the public or business community give up their time to press their case in the council chamber, they should at least expect the attention of those who will make a decision on their future.

Gordon Millward, chairman of the small business federation, is entitled to lambast them for ignoring his submission, seeing them on their phones, emails and even nodding off.

Our councillors will now be talked to by their leaders like naughty schoolchildren, we are told.

They will do well to understand that complacency can result in them losing their seats - and equally significantly to losing their legitimacy in the eyes of those who elect them.

The day another pit was closed

AND then there was just one... And even the future of Hatfield Colliery is not secure.

This weekend saw an act of burial marking the end of Maltby Colliery, the other pit left in South Yorkshire.

It is no surprise... the industry is decimated and hanging on by its fingernails. But every passing of a colliery is a nail in the coffin of our heritage and no less emotional than the first pit closure.

During the 1980s in Yorkshire alone there were 56 pits employing 60,000 people. Those miners and this industry have made a massive contribution to our way of life, and our communities.

It was a sombre occasion as 540 people lost their jobs. And countless others will struggle for a livelihood on the day King Coal was laid to rest.