For Mr Grouchy, the last couple of months have not been good. Every day he wakes anticipating the enlightenment promised by his local councillors. Every night he goes to bed disappointed.
It started when Mr Grouchy used the 'public forum' in that cradle of local democracy, the Neighbourhood Partnership, to raise matters that had been ruled off the formal agenda. The chair, local Tory councillor Jay Jethwa, had dismissed it, overriding protests from others present, to ban all discussion.
Since then, it's been removed from official view; even the title “Something Rotten in the State of NP14” has been minuted as “Hengrove and Stockwood N P”. But there was a silver lining..... a written response was promised. Mr Grouchy's been waiting for that for nine weeks now.
An email reminder to the four councillors got no response. A direct request to Jay's fellow ward councillor, David Morris brought only the grudging assurance... 'you'll get an answer'. And at the Ward Forum, it was the same... Cllr. Jethwa conceded that she's still drafting a response, but couldn't say when it might be delivered. As a Christmas present? A new year's gift? Sorry, don't know...... Switching into jobsworth mode, she reminded Mr Grouchy that there's no deadline for a response.
So even now, no-one's so much as acknowledged that the 'Partners' in this Partnership have any right to put items on the NP14 agenda, as other NPs do. No-one's even conceded that it would be common courtesy if councillors offered an explanation when they override the majority view and the decision making guidelines. Instead, the criticisms from Mr Grouchy and friends are dismissed as being negative, disruptive, or even bullying.
Mr Grouchy has a sneaking suspicion that the Hengrove and Stockwood councillors see the Neighbourhood Partnership as an irrelevant irritant – and why should they want to make it any more irritating by allowing the partner/residents to play a real part?
Is it time for Grouchy and co. join the many residents who've already given up on NP14 ?
Maybe.... it would take a superhero to restore democracy to Hengrove and Stockwood.