The proof of the pudding ...

POLITICIANS are past masters at promising things, and no doubt once all the razzmatazz of the US presidential elections dies down, Americans will be looking to see if Barack Obama really does come up with the goods during his second term.

Here in Rother, local movers and shakers also have another chance to prove “Yes, we can”, this time over the key issue of breathing new life into Bexhill town centre.

Cllr Brian Kentfield, chairman of the town centre steering group, says: “It is crucial that we get this right, which is why we are taking our time and making sure as many people as possible get to have their say.”

His comments come just as Rother embarks on its widely billed public consultation over how best to being fresh momentum to our town without ruining the things that make Bexhill - well, Bexhill.

It’s a laudable approach. Take the public with you and success, if not completely guaranteed, is at least well on the way to being achieved. Hurrah for democracy!

But, dare we say it, this “listening to what people want “ business doesn’t always work out quite as well as it should.

For starters, you are never going to please all of the people all of the time, but then if you say you are going to listen, you must listen. And be seen to be doing so.

Politicians at all levels, when seeking a particular end, have a peculiar tendency to understudy Mr Jorrocks’ celebrated witness and swear, in a general way, to anything.

Here in Rother, past projects in which public consultation has supposedly been paramount have left rather larger question marks than they perhaps should.

The Next Wave project , the loss of parking in Devonshire Square and now the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road are examples of people’s views being tested but then often overridden, concerns brushed aside.

This cannot be allowed to happen with something so vital as Bexhill’s future for decades to come. No one can pretend consensus will be easy, but nor must dissenting views be quashed.

• See page 25 to find out how to get hold of a copy of the town centre regeneration document and have your say on what is inside.