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> Call for more powers to local councils., As if we didn't have enough to worry about!
On the edge
post Nov 30 2014, 04:52 PM
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30266834

I have to say, as far as I'm concerned, this would be the biggest downside to the devolution no vote. Whilst logically, it might seem the right answer to restore and give back powers to local councils, their antics round here suggest that they can't cope with the power they have already.

We do have a model, Newbury Town Council was restored, after a period of abolition, but it's been an unmitigated disaster. Equally, WBC was created (in reality) by giving a district council far more powers than they had previously. Again, that Council has hardly covered itself in glory.

In spite of the large number of councillors, at local level, we seem unable to find effective leaders at any level. I can't see that we'd correct that simply by giving the Councils even more power.

Yes, there needs to be an English counter to the devolved 'governments' elsewhere, or we'll end up with a Charter Trustees model; a convenient milch cow to subsidise spending. But this proposal is surely the wrong answer.


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Simon Kirby
post Nov 30 2014, 07:19 PM
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The Local Government Association is the trade body for the local government administration industry, so they're always going to be demanding more power and more money.

I'd deliver all public services through national agencies so there'd be the greatest economy of scale, concentration of expertise, and a consistent level of service, and I'd abolish all of the elected councils and make the MP the sole democratic representative.

I'd also require all public services to work with citizen juries at an appropriate level of localness so that there was a level of direct democracy in every public service - national juries for national services such as defence, regional juries for regional services such as policing, local juries for local services such as schools, etc.

And of course I'd expect the greatest possible engagement of volunteers in all services.


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MontyPython
post Dec 1 2014, 07:25 PM
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Whilst I would like to see more powers devolved locally not to WBC or NTC please neither of which seem to have the competence to run anything. Please let us have our local services merged with Wokingham and possibly Windsor & Maidenhead too. Then we may get some competent officers to run the authority.
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Cognosco
post Dec 1 2014, 07:48 PM
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The main criteria is to make any local Councils accountable to precept payers. As with our present rabble once elected they want to forget the precept payer and not engage with them in any shape or form especially if they happen to ask questions which they don't want to give an answer to. There must be a method of getting rid of them under special circumstances when required and make them accountable and transparent. rolleyes.gif

The present lot just seem to run the town as a personal little club and if you are not a member of that club then you are not wanted until of course an election arises.
Rather than giving them more local power I would rather get rid of the lot of them unless accountability is given a major overhaul. angry.gif


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blackdog
post Dec 2 2014, 01:14 AM
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QUOTE (MontyPython @ Dec 1 2014, 07:25 PM) *
Whilst I would like to see more powers devolved locally not to WBC or NTC please neither of which seem to have the competence to run anything. Please let us have our local services merged with Wokingham and possibly Windsor & Maidenhead too. Then we may get some competent officers to run the authority.

I agree that WBC should merge with other local districts to create a viable authority (they are all too small) and gain some economies of scale. But I don't think that other local authorities are any better run (people I talk to from Wokingham would certainly disagree that their council does a good job). Local authorities have been shafted by a succession of Westminster administrations only interested in gathering everything into their control. All they can do these days is what Whitehall tells them to do.

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On the edge
post Dec 2 2014, 08:03 AM
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Not totally convinced that it was all the fault of Whitehall. Let's face it, a deficit of real political leadership locally and the proclivity of certain parties to play act Westminister politics locally has also contributed. Local government as we knew it has had its day, a busted flush.


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MontyPython
post Dec 2 2014, 04:26 PM
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QUOTE (On the edge @ Dec 2 2014, 08:03 AM) *
Not totally convinced that it was all the fault of Whitehall. Let's face it, a deficit of real political leadership locally and the proclivity of certain parties to play act Westminister politics locally has also contributed. Local government as we knew it has had its day, a busted flush.


Lets face it local politicians are only really toy politicians and interfering busybodies. The only exception so far is RUP who looks as though he may have the will to make a difference.
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Simon Kirby
post Dec 2 2014, 05:58 PM
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QUOTE (On the edge @ Dec 2 2014, 08:03 AM) *
Not totally convinced that it was all the fault of Whitehall. Let's face it, a deficit of real political leadership locally and the proclivity of certain parties to play act Westminister politics locally has also contributed. Local government as we knew it has had its day, a busted flush.

I agree, it's hard to see how this has anything at all to do with Whitehall. The problem as I see it is that politicians have forgotten that they are there to serve the public interest and hold the council to account. What we have is the exact opposite where politicians believe the public owe them deference, and that their role is to protect the council's abuse from public scrutiny. The council machine encourages this, shepherding their councillors, fluffing their pride with the promise of a turn in the bi-corn hat if they're good little lambs, and scaring them with stories of a ravening public.


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NWNREADER
post Dec 2 2014, 10:12 PM
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QUOTE (MontyPython @ Dec 1 2014, 08:25 PM) *
Whilst I would like to see more powers devolved locally not to WBC or NTC please neither of which seem to have the competence to run anything. Please let us have our local services merged with Wokingham and possibly Windsor & Maidenhead too. Then we may get some competent officers to run the authority.


You want Planning decisions for W Berks influenced by Councillors from Windsor/Maidenhead etc? Really?
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blackdog
post Dec 2 2014, 11:14 PM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Dec 2 2014, 05:58 PM) *
I agree, it's hard to see how this has anything at all to do with Whitehall. The problem as I see it is that politicians have forgotten that they are there to serve the public interest and hold the council to account. What we have is the exact opposite where politicians believe the public owe them deference, and that their role is to protect the council's abuse from public scrutiny. The council machine encourages this, shepherding their councillors, fluffing their pride with the promise of a turn in the bi-corn hat if they're good little lambs, and scaring them with stories of a ravening public.


What we have is a council dominated by a small clique of 'executive members' who have, with the encouragement of Whitehall, usurped the old committee based council system. Most councillor have virtually nothing to do apart from turn up at a few meetings to vote the way they are told. Reading has had the good sense to kick out this oligarchic system and revert to the old, far more democratic, system.

Not that it does them that good because Whitehall tells them how much they can spend on what - if they have real control over 10% of the council's activities I'd be astounded.
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blackdog
post Dec 2 2014, 11:18 PM
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QUOTE (NWNREADER @ Dec 2 2014, 10:12 PM) *
You want Planning decisions for W Berks influenced by Councillors from Windsor/Maidenhead etc? Really?

They wouldn't be - planning decisions are decided by council officers and Whitehall inspectors - councillors have almost no influence whatsoever. If a council planning committee goes against the officers recommendation odds are that the inspectors will overturn the decision on appeal.
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Andy Capp
post Dec 3 2014, 01:44 PM
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All Councillors can do is organise protests or petitions and scrutinise officer effort. They have no real power other than to raise the profile of any particular issue, acting as a go-between with the officers and the public. I don't see anything wrong with that other than they don't always do it.
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Cognosco
post Dec 3 2014, 03:59 PM
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QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Dec 3 2014, 01:44 PM) *
All Councillors can do is organise protests or petitions and scrutinise officer effort. They have no real power other than to raise the profile of any particular issue, acting as a go-between with the officers and the public. I don't see anything wrong with that other than they don't always do it.


Surely another complete waste of time, unless they are able to alter an outcome which it appears they are not able to do? unsure.gif
Still it gives the impression that they have a purpose I suppose and keeps the little club going! rolleyes.gif


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Simon Kirby
post Dec 3 2014, 05:05 PM
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QUOTE (blackdog @ Dec 2 2014, 11:14 PM) *
What we have is a council dominated by a small clique of 'executive members' who have, with the encouragement of Whitehall, usurped the old committee based council system. Most councillor have virtually nothing to do apart from turn up at a few meetings to vote the way they are told. Reading has had the good sense to kick out this oligarchic system and revert to the old, far more democratic, system.

Not that it does them that good because Whitehall tells them how much they can spend on what - if they have real control over 10% of the council's activities I'd be astounded.

In truth I have very little experience of WBC, and what experience I do have corresponds with what you say so I don't disagree. My comment was directed largely at NTC where I have a better understanding than most, and where the victimisation is particularly bad if you challenge that clique - Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera made a brave stand but took some serious hostility for his efforts and has taken the only credible decision left and resigned from the Council.

At WBC I'm not convinced that a democratic committee-council is any better than an executive or even mayoral system. In principle it sounds better because you have greater oversight, but in practice I don't see the elected councillors challenging any abuse of power. You get the odd bit of grand-standing in the local paper, but the clique that control the local parties won't allow anyone to stand for election who has the slightest inclination to challenge the comfort of the establishment.


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Andy Capp
post Dec 3 2014, 05:20 PM
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QUOTE (Cognosco @ Dec 3 2014, 03:59 PM) *
Surely another complete waste of time, unless they are able to alter an outcome which it appears they are not able to do? unsure.gif
Still it gives the impression that they have a purpose I suppose and keeps the little club going! rolleyes.gif


I'm not sure it is exactly like that. Councillors are in effect the elected peer to speak on constituents' behalf and perhaps sell the officers decisions too. If it were a limited company, you could say the constituents are the shareholders, the councillors are non-exec directors and the council officers are the executive directors/officers.

Councillors can only be as powerful as legislation and protocol will permit. They do have a value, but expectations are probably higher than they deserve to be.

I blame the 'shareholders'.
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Cognosco
post Dec 3 2014, 06:04 PM
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QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Dec 3 2014, 05:20 PM) *
I'm not sure it is exactly like that. Councillors are in effect the elected peer to speak on constituents' behalf and perhaps sell the officers decisions too. If it were a limited company, you could say the constituents are the shareholders, the councillors are non-exec directors and the council officers are the executive directors/officers.

Councillors can only be as powerful as legislation and protocol will permit. They do have a value, but expectations are probably higher than they deserve to be.

I blame the 'shareholders'.


The few that now bother to vote! Still given very little choice as Simon states our local clique won't tolerate any one standing for the major parties who is not in the club! rolleyes.gif


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blackdog
post Dec 3 2014, 06:58 PM
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QUOTE (Cognosco @ Dec 3 2014, 06:04 PM) *
... as Simon states our local clique won't tolerate any one standing for the major parties who is not in the club! rolleyes.gif

Why should a party promote someone whose views contradict theirs?

It's a basic failure of party dominated politics - but the fault is the electorate's, we vote for parties far more than we vote for individuals.
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Simon Kirby
post Dec 3 2014, 07:15 PM
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QUOTE (blackdog @ Dec 3 2014, 06:58 PM) *
Why should a party promote someone whose views contradict theirs?

It's a basic failure of party dominated politics - but the fault is the electorate's, we vote for parties far more than we vote for individuals.

In fact the question for the Newbury Liberal Democrats is why won't they select a member who does stand for the party values of defending the rights and liberties of the little man against state abuse. It may be different for the Conservative Party that is supposed to be the home of the reactionary establishment-apologist, but not the Lib Dems, this is the stuff that Lib Dems are expected to promote:
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The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full. We aim to disperse power, to foster diversity and to nurture creativity. We believe that the role of the state is to enable all citizens to attain these ideals, to contribute fully to their communities and to take part in the decisions which affect their lives.


Now tell me with a straight face that those of the values of the Liberal Democrat administration at NTC.


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NWNREADER
post Dec 3 2014, 09:23 PM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Dec 3 2014, 06:05 PM) *
Ruwan Uduwerage-Perera made a brave stand but took some serious hostility for his efforts and has taken the only credible decision left and resigned from the Council.


He has? I missed that....
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MontyPython
post Dec 3 2014, 10:06 PM
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QUOTE (NWNREADER @ Dec 3 2014, 09:23 PM) *
He has? I missed that....


I thought he had only stood down as deputy leader. Is there to be an election for a replacement?
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