Posted by: westlancashirerecord | November 23, 2016

Reducing The Costs Of Local Government?

You could imagine the squealing and squirming among some local Conservative councillors as they read an article by Judy Terry judyterr on ConservativeHome yesterday that claimed “an anti-establishment message will have potency in the forthcoming county council elections”. It might well do, along with other matters affecting what we pay for, the costs of local democracy.

“Local government should be about fairness, rather than self-interest, serving the people, not the elite, who often don’t even live locally” she wrote. We’ve seen self interests in spades recently, and especially a case of finding an out of borough Wyre councillor Moon had taken a second seat in West Lancashire. We are now reading in a blog by Our West Lancashire Cllr Owens about Moon’s party justifying such a candidature and election.

Judy Terry suggests “being positive and keeping the message short and clear. Voters dislike negative campaigning and personal vitriol aimed at the opposition, however tempting [and the electorate, lies told door to door?]. And select candidates in plenty of time so they engage with their local communities to understand their concerns and be seen to support, rather than patronise, them in resolving issues. This cannot be done overnight, residents are increasingly aware of who genuinely cares and are sceptical of those candidates who are suddenly highly visible”.

“If Parliament is reducing the number of MPs to 600, down from 650, it’s time to reduce the number of councillors. Too many are now earning their living by sitting on more than one authority, which means that, with special allowances, it is not unusual for some to be paid considerably more than the average local wage. [LCC includes Westley (since 2009), O’Toole (since 2000), Aldridge (since 2005), Barron (unknown), Hennessy (2013)] This is unsustainable, when incomes are barely increasing, but council taxes are inexorably on the up. Is this fair? The electorate won’t think so when it realises just what is happening, and the opposition will make sure it does”.

“Too late to implement for 2017, this should form part of any Conservative manifesto because there is no justification to retain the status quo in most areas, as has been proved in parts of Suffolk, where authorities have reviewed boundaries, cutting councillor numbers, as well as formed joint management teams, saving millions annually.

“Isn’t it also time, she asks, to introduce a form of retirement for councillors? It’s not unusual for them to serve for 30 or 40 years, or even longer, which means that younger people don’t bring fresh ideas to the table. That is also unfair, adding to the sense of exclusion”. Tory O’Toole has been 16 years on LCC and 32 years on WLBC, 48 years combined and standing for the LCC again in 2017. It’s the allowances, you see, “…it is not unusual for some to be paid considerably more than the average local wage”. carryonatthecouncil

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