Friday, 18 September 2009

Link to consultation

The Government has said that Councils have to decide, by the end of this year, on a change to the way they run things. They either have to have a slightly different leader and cabinet arrangement or decide to have an elected Mayor. There is a chance for people in Liverpool to have their say at this web page.

If the link doesn't work, go to and look for the story which will be one of those on the front page


Matthew Huntbach said...

Despite every council in the country having to do this, there has, so far as I know, been no national media coverage of the issue whatsoever. Even our own party seems to have nothing to say on it.

There ought to be an outcry on it. This is a major constitutional issue. Why has it been let go as if it hardly mattered?

The biggest problem is that it is a fake consultation. It's the oldest trick in the book - give people just two options, tell them to choose between the two then say "look, that's what you said you wanted". The reality is that you made both options variations of what you wanted, and did not allow anything else.

Here, both options means councillors become merely consultative, power is taken away from being shared by all the councillors and put into the hands of one person. Why is the Labour government so keen on this sort of system? If they push it through at local level will it go through next at national level? What that would mean is abolishing the power of MPs to vote, having a dictator who cannot be voted out instead of power ultimately being with a collection of people who represent all the various viewpoints and areas.

Why is this considered so unimportant that no-one is talking about it, apart from a few councillors who are just being so bland as if it was some minor thing like what colour shall we paint the Town Hall doors?

PM Swimmer said...

I have to say I too am pretty disgusted by this poor attempt at a consultation. Really have voters and council tax payers fallen so low in the opinion of politicians from local council level to ministers that you all thinks it fine to just push out changes to the way local democracy works with no consultation other than this insult. And yet you all ring your hands wondering why no one votes and why fringe parties are making headway with the few that do.

That said I take the opposite view of the above poster, councils aren't working, councillors have no power or influence and Council Chief execs are paid more than the Prime Minister with absolutely NO accountability to either the voters or the weak party loyalists that we have for councillors.

We need to get rid of the weasels that are paid a fortune as council chief exes, executive Directors, faceless (except when snapped at some jolly), unelected nobodies who never have to answer for their mistakes and have bank-boss golden parachutes and benefits packages. These people are not worth the money and if the council think they are then that should be up to us to decide.

I for one think we need an identifiable and accountable leader for the city region, someone that can stand up for the wider area of Merseyside against Whitehall and can be voted out if they fail to deliver. And any system for an elected Mayor has to be one that would allow someone outside of the party structure to have a chance at getting elected i.e. a separate 'X for mayor' campaign office, funding structure and election machinery.

This is important because
1 none of the parties have come up with decent ideas about how to manage, govern and renew our cities in the last 20 years. Yes we've had some successes but the price has been identikit towns and a reliance on bent property developers putting up thousands of un-green, poorly constructed flats.
2. We need some one to make decisions for the city region, standing up to Whitehall and fighting them for the best possible deal. That won't happen if they are wearing the same rosette as the party. Party headquarters won't put forward visionary, forceful and difficult candidates. In London Ken had to go outside the party and Boris was only put forward when the Tories realised that they needed to put forward someone similarly forthright and un-politic. Your lot realised the same.

Now this might lead to personality politics, but councillors with no personality is hardly setting the electorate on fire is it? Also the council structure could provide a check and balance.

This proposal won't give us this anything like this, all we're going to end up with is the current situation where mediocre and third rate councillors would be pushed forward from the ranks of similar 8 term middle-aged councillors who are more inter-related than small town in South Carolina. And before arguing or declining my comment consider why you want to stand for parliament not as leader of the city your campaign literature is about to inform us that you love. I would suggest it’s because you recognise that it’s currently a pointless post that would be a waste of your time and talents, able to achieve nothing and that the squalid politicking it has recently involved is beneath you and by way of a compliment I'd agree.

Paula you are executive member for Ethical Governance, shouldn't you be giving us more on this issue. You want us to elect you as MP, but can you demonstrate your record and successes as Executive Member, will you tell us your view of this process?.

I realise that I'm writing in anger and being unkind but this is about how we are represented and what say, if any, we have in that process and so I can't apologise for getting worked up about this, people fight, kill and die to have to some form of representative governence and yet ours is being slowly taken away by a thousand odious little laws and squalid non-consultations.

Paula Keaveney said...

Hello PM I wondered where you had gone!

My thoughts on the decision being forced on the Council are not printable!

We are being asked (told actually) by the Government to choose between two models neither of which I think are up to much.

I personally oppose elected mayors although people campaigning for them have every right to do so.
I personally don't like the Cabinet system as I think it puts too much power into too few hands and potentially disenfranchises some very talented elected councillors. (It can also be a source of patronage which I dislike, a sort of jobs for votes thing - although in my case I know this is not the case)

However the government is telling every Council in the country it has to make this decision, which we will do at a Full Council meeting probably in December. If we refuse to make a decision, the government has already said it will impose one! So much for localism.

The consultation has however had more coverage than you think. Apart from a press ad there has been editorial coverage, including quotes from Warren Bradley and the guy running the mayoral referendum campaign.

Thank you for your kind (I think!!) comments. I may well post something about the highs and lows, successes and frustrations of my portfolio at some point.