West Midlands NO!

Regional government: unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable and unwanted

In place of Democracy

Posted by Ken on November 29, 2006

Shropshire County council officers have set up an online blog which allows Shropshire people to give their views on moves to create a new all-purpose council to run the county.The online diary has been launched on the county council’s website and so far has been visited more than 1,600 times, with 35 comments submitted.

The county council, together with the Oswestry Borough Council and South Shropshire District Council, have put forward a “One Council for Shropshire” proposal.

They claim services will be streamlined and money saved by having just one authority instead of the current two-tier set-up of the county and five district and borough councils.

Each week on the blog a new aspect of the proposal will be presented, and comments will be invited.

Councillor Mike Owen, county council cabinet member for well-being, said: “Over the last few months we have consulted with local people, service users, businesses and partners, and our case for One Council for Shropshire reflects their views and needs.

“But we want to continue to communicate openly and honestly with residents and listen to their comments.

“This blog is a new and exciting way of doing that, and we are pleased to see that people are already getting involved in the debate.”

The blog can be found at www.shropshire.gov.uk/blog/onecouncil.nsf


So far it seems most of the commenters are employed by the various councils, perhaps this will change as the general public become aware of the blog. It would seem that all of the councils have accepted the business plan for a unitary council except Bridgnorth District Council which has rejected the plan.

Hats off to Shrewsbury and Atcham council leader Peter Nutting who has said the decision to scrap Shropshire’s district councils should be made by the people following a public poll – not simply by council officials He said “all the councils should work together and ask the people of Shropshire the same question on the same day in a county-wide poll: should the authorities be united as one “super council” Also that the question should be put to the people by an independent body and not by council officials.

According to Carolyn Downs, Chief Executive, Shropshire County Council  the Secretary of State has made it very clear that one of her tests for any unitary case is to ask “does it have a broad, cross-section of support. Unfortunately this broad cross-section of support does not seem to include the council taxpayer this also from the Blog “When Ministers visited Shropshire in February this year to discuss local government structures, they met with service users and residents, business representatives, Councillors (County, District and Borough, Town and Parish levels), Chief Executives and our major partners (police, health, Learning and Skills Council, voluntary sector etc). They heard a strong response that unitary local government was change worth consideration.” “As a result, David Miliband, MP, wrote to all participants saying that we should not wait for the publication of the White Paper to take our work forward.

We therefore immediately considered how to ascertain and involve the views of local people in taking this work forward. Our legal advice is that neither we, nor any other local government partner in Shropshire, have the powers to undertake a referendum.”

The main argument against a referendum seems to fall into the same category as all other objections referenda, which boils down to the people are to stupid to understand the arguments.

“Consulting residents on such issues is immensely challenging. Residents generally know very little about the complexities of local government structure, nor do they normally see it as important as the quality of services.”

One thing which stands out is that the government have made it clear that the status quo is not an option. Which means that despite the rejection of the Regional assembly in the North East, despite the fact that the Government is to scared to ask the rest of us, despite all the polls which tell them we don’t want to divide England into EU recognised regions,  they are continuing with the process of Regionalisation.  



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