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Swatting Fly in the ointment
12:01pm Wednesday 2nd October 2013 in Letters
WITH REFERENCE to “The fly in the ointment” article Guardian, September 25, I’m not surprised that the provocateur uses the cloak of anonymity, the article is either ill researched and misinformed, or deliberately misleading.
It is written in disparaging terms and in order to progress his argument against parish and town councils, has cherry picked areas of responsibility that can be referred to as less meaningful. He claims that the days are gone when “these” councils provided a sense of local identity, but provides no evidence to support such a claim.
He suggests council tax bills would be less if local councils were abolished.
If that were to happen, the services carried out would have to be passed to county level at the same cost but less local interest in ensuring they are carried out.
Regarding local councils having no powers, I could go into great detail on the thirty four headings covering many subsections of responsibility and the 53 Acts of Parliament that support them but “these” councils are not about exercising power, they are about representation; for instance, on issues of planning, which the writer dismisses as advisory. In fact we have the right to speak at strategic planning meetings and object, often with success, against inappropriate development.
The author bemoans the demise of borough councils but fails to see that this makes town and parish councils all the more important. Councillors bring their time, experience and effort for no financial reward.
If the abolition of local councils were to provide one extra ambulance, I would be the first to resign. The majority of councillors are elected members and that is how we achieved our Quality Council certification.
When a councillor retires we co-opt a replacement, saving the cost of by-elections, however, eventually all co-opted have to obtain a mandate at the local government elections, democracy does prevail.
Parish councillors do not bring political affiliations to the table, and they are not subject to any party whip.
They simply carry out their role based what is considered best for the communities they represent.
As a final swat to your “Fly in the ointment” journalist, I suggest he brings himself up to date with the Localism Act 2011 which sets out the Powers of Competence being devolved down to local councils. Grass roots democracy should be celebrated, not castigated.
Clr Phil Herbert Vice Chair Hartford Parish Council
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