Voters Need The Right To Switch Councils
Local Government needs a very big shake up, and councillors and people who work for most councils need to be reminded that they are public servants, here to serve us the public, not to lay down the the law to us.
There is talk about legislation for voters to have the right of recall for their MP and it would make sense to apply the same right for voters for Local Government.
One of the most common complaints about local democracy is the time it can take to change things. If you don’t like a policy or even a whole council leadership, it can take years to unseat councillors or drive your message home to the powers that be.
The effect of that is to deter people from trying to change things at all. In a world where ordinary voters who aren’t political obsessives have more than enough pressures on their time – paying the mortgage, holding on to your job, seeing the kids – it is small wonder they are dispirited and deterred by the slow pace of change.
To overcome that will require introducing new methods of allowing voters to make themselves heard.
One of the faults with Local Government has been the way the local councils try to implement their national party’s policies, when their national party has lost a General Election. The old socialist republics of Lambeth, Camden, Islington and Tower Hamlets spring to mind with their profligate spending and loony ideas like nuclear free zones and more recently Carbon Free Zones.
It was suggested to me by Harrow Councillor Barry MacLeod-Cullinane, one of the more original thinkers in local government.
His idea could be called local secession and it goes something like this. If you live in a ward that borders another council, you should be allowed to hold a referendum to leave your council and join the one next door.
As with recall, this would be done initially by gathering a sufficiently large petition of voters in the ward to secure the right to have a referendum. Full story ConservativeHome
Aardvark lives in an area of South Oxfordshire which is controlled by the Lib Dem Vale of the White Horse district council who have lost all idea of public service, and now view themselves as being in charge and laying down the law to the public.
South Oxfordshire is not exactly multi-cultural in makeup, yet the Vale of the White Horse have a Diversity Officer and have completed a diversity study, all costing tax payers money.
The council tax went up 6 times the rate of inflation in April, in area that has been hit very badly by the recession and there is real financial hardship, Wantage has been featured in the National Press as one of the hardest hit places in the country. The Vale of the White Horse council took no notice of this and continued spending and inflated salaries and pensions as usual.
The council used to have a local office in Wantage where people could pay council tax and get information on services, not long before the last General Election Aardvark was in there, when a big argument broke out between a member of the public and two jobsworths employed by the council.
The member of the public had fallen behind with their Council Tax payments and was trying to reach an agreement about getting the payments sorted out.
The two middle aged women who worked for the Council were not there to help or be reasonable they offered only two options
Full payment of all arrears immediately
Magistrates Court Warrant, increased costs and then bailiffs
You can reach an arrangement with HMRC over payments, but all Local Government can do is act in a heavy handed manner and increase hardship for those that are already suffering.
The man’s reply as he stormed out of the office was priceless “There is an Election coming and pointless jobsworths like you that I pay for will be gone, fuck the lot of you”
Well he was right, the Office is closed now, the jobsworths made redundant and that remains is to hope that the former Council employees are behind with their Council Tax and are now somewhere trying to reason with a sad little jobsworth just like they used to be.
It is time for democracy to return to Local Government and for Local Governemnt to remember this The People Should Not Fear The Government, Government Should Fear The People