Those taxpayers who think councillors are a waste of their council tax and should be done away with, just need to be patient for a few more years, if the local government press is to be believed.
Apparently, the bill for adult social care will increase at such a rate, whilst local government funding will be reduced at a similar rate, that there will no money left to do anything else. It’s estimated that the adult care bill will absorb 90% of the available funding, with the remainder being used to empty the bins. If this forecast is accurate, then I think there will be little need for elected members in whatever remains of local government.
As well as helping to formulate policy for the wide range of services councils currently provide, councillors also set the tax rate that partly pays for these services. Just as importantly, councillors help local taxpayers deal with the effects of those policies, especially when they don’t work as advertised, or even don’t work at all. It therefore follows, that by starving local government of funding, apart from those needed for adult care and emptying the bins, elected members will have little or no policies to formulate and very few issues to help taxpayers with. No policies = no problems = problem solved.
Central government will be able to keep the masses distracted by continuing to promote elected mayors, so there’s something local for them to vote for every few years. Local democratic energies will be absorbed by the outcomes of localism. Local people will need to spend their time running the services they value and that used to be run by councils. This may ultimately lead to the creation of a group of community leaders, trusted by the public to steward these services and charged with making the best use of their communities hard earned money. Indeed, they may even be called councillors.
We need to keep a system based on elected councillors but we need fewer of them and the electorate deserve higher and more consistent standards – it is the tax payer footing the bill after all. Let’s start by reducing councillors by say 50%, insisting on minimum standards and introducing a system of voluntary public scrutiny
Can’t have it both ways. With reduction comes exclusion. I think I put in a reasonable level of effort as a councillor, but would I want to do twice as much? Probably not, because it’s not a job and if it were, I think the whole dynamic would be different. Professional elected members, is that what local government needs? Better standards, minimum performance requirements yes, but a professional cadre of elite councillors groomed for the task by party political parties like MPs, be careful what you wish for. Professional politicians are not that good at getting their hands dirty but are rather good at telling everybody they know best.
I might be persuaded by your argument if you could promise me the improved standards. As you well know every 4 years the parties scratch around trying to find enough candidates to contest the elections and as they dig deeper into the barrel the result is totally unsuitable people being elected. You will remember the man who barely ever turned up for meetings, gave no value to the Council or the electorate but continued to draw his Member’s allowance. As a tax payer that sort of thing is completely unacceptable.
Actually, I’m playing devil’s advocate to some extent, as I agree with you re standards and performance. I actually think that it was a serious error introducing the cabinet system to LG. it has allowed allowances to be inflated to a ludicrous level in many councils, without, as you say, any performance standards, other than those imposed by the political process. We are on a one way street with the culling of staff, so it’s probably too late to see a wholesale return to the committee system and the return of genuine part time members – including the many self important and inflated leaders who now honk they have the skills to run the business.
How does predictive text turn think in to honk? Although actual, honk might be right for some of them!