The disconnect between local authorities and local people has been growing for some time. Instead of a Council administration subservient to councilors and the local voters and council taxpayers, we have administrators controlling everyone else, what should be done and setting various fees and charges as they see fit. Increasingly, the more senior managers salaries are incompatible with their role, responsibilities and relationship with local people. The level at a which these salaries are being set can only be describe as greed.
In addressing this disconnect, there are likely to be many benefits regained for local people of which having a realistic say in and control of the local area is uppermost. The dangerous word in the last sentence is control. The government sees control as it’s job as do the local councils. We need to wrest this back. As always we have the power, which lies with the ballot box. If we are to achieve “localism” – gaining control of what happens locally – we will also have an effect on central government. If regaining a major say in local affairs is achieved it will be the first step in doing the same thing locally.
What do we need to do?
Firstly, we have to ensure that we have councilors who are local which would ensure a personal interested in the success of the area and who are capable and motivated to serve the local community. It’s probably essential that these councilors would be independents. The need to serve the Labour/Tory/LibDem/other parties does not benefit local people. This would be a direct challenge to these parties and they wouldn’t take it lying down.
Secondly, we have to restrict the power of council officials within the decision making process. Councilors are increasingly rubber-stamping decisions already framed by their officials. Whilst advice may be required, the councilors must have enough of an understanding of the issues and a genuine desire to ensure that the decision made will be for the benefit of local people.
Thirdly, the structure and activities currently being carried out by each council would have to be examined to ensure they were for the clear benefit of local people. The removal of political dogma and it’s impact on local people would bolster the local economy and free up funds which could be used to reduce the Council Tax. This could lead to local councils vying with their neighbours to have the lowest tax in the wider area
Fourthly, having got rid of the stuff that isn’t beneficial the council should then be required to provide a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to every council taxpayer and voter in the area. If councils failed to deliver as per the SLA then they would have to pay compensation. Simple.
Fifthly, the effectiveness and efficiency of each council should be measured and reported on, not just to the councilors but the again the council tax payers and voters. This exercise would undoubtedly expose inflated salaries, unnecessarily high staff head counts and services which do not provide a genuine benefit to the council taxpayers and voters.
Increasing regulation be it nationally or from the EU would also become more visible and be debated and reported on so that local people would be more aware of where increased costs were coming from. This would lead to more pressure being aimed at national politicians.
The work carried out by Councils has become inflated and its value exaggerated. Council service delivery should be aimed primarily at a content and level, which is appropriate for and beneficial to the local area.
Things have to change. The cart is before the horse at the moment. The council tax and all the other charges and scams levied by local councils are set on the basis of how much money the council decides is necessary to feed it’s self serving needs. The amount set should be based on the lowest possible administration overhead to meet local needs and regulatory requirements.
Anything more is morally wrong.