Friday, 3 July 2009

How can we make Local Governmnet more accountable?

I have a letter published in the Andover Advertiser today about making local Government more democratic and accountable. Here it is;

Dear Sir,

It was great to see in a recent edition of the Andover Advertiser the ideas of Conservative politicians Daniel Hannan MEP and Douglas Carswell MP were being talked about. In their book the Plan; twelve months to renew Britain they set out a whole range of reforms to make sure Parliament is more accountable not just a creature of the executive – they promote the shifting of power from the state to subjects; from the government to parliament; from Whitehall to communities; from the EU to Britain and one of the most important, from Central Government to Local Government.

In this very newspaper we saw a bit about their campaign for more effective Local Government. At the moment and thanks to a decade and a bit of Labour, Local Government is on its knees. They have transferred power to unelected & unaccountable regional agencies; they have transferred power to the quangos. Much of what local government does – not by any means all - is to have to take a lead and listen to these unelected bureaucracies in which government has entrusted its power. The result of this is a decision making process that isn’t local – and all local politicians say is “we had to do this we had no choice – it has been forced on us by government”. In this scenario no-one is accountable and we wonder why there is little turnout in Local elections. I am sure local politicians of all parties and none would support a more democratic outlook. Carswell & Hannan are proposing we change this and I for one support their ideas, to; Abolish regional development agencies, regional government offices and transfer power to local councils; scrap the department of communities and local government and pass its powers to local authorities; grant English Counties and Cities responsible for all areas of policy which under the 1998 Scotland Act are devolved to the Holyrood Parliament – thus solving the West Lothian Question.

You may think I am supporting this because I am a Local Councillor and I want more power – nothing can be further from the truth. I want Local Government to be more responsible, more accountable, if the electorate believes that a particular governing party (whoever they may be) are not doing a very good job – then they can throw them out at the ballot box – because ultimately with increased powers that authority would be responsible.

Cllr Phil North

Alamein Ward

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