Tuesday, 13 September 2011

RIP Local Government

I've just read in my local rag today that my local authority will be joining forces with another local council to provide services. Is this an issue? The reason is to save money, presumably through economies of scale so win-win?

What about local democracy though? The Authority I worked for only a couple of years back is barely recognisable today. Yes there's still a grand old building slap bang in the middle of the City, but it's emptying out fast. In Social Care the in-house provider has been scaled down and care homes sold off to BUPA, Housing benefit claims are now administered in Bromley, legal services and licencing are shared with a neighbouring authority and now there's plans on the table to merge services with yet another authority.

All this means people just don't know who runs what or who is responsible for what. In these new organisations opaqueness replaces transparency whilst democratically elected councillors seem increasingly irrelevant, just how much influence can they have over services in these public-private-voluntary sector hybrid super-councils? How much say do we have as voters? Or are we no longer voters, but simply customers?

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