West Midlands NO!

Regional government: unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable and unwanted

People should have a say on how they are governed

Posted by Ken on December 19, 2006

Ludlow MP Phillip Dunne is also a district councillor in South Shropshire, along with all other Conservative MPs in Shropshire he is calling for a referendum on the Governments pans for a Unitary Authority.

It has been made clear by the government that the present local government system is not an option, however exactly why this is the case has not been made clear. It certainly cannot be to save money or to make the services more efficient because that cannot be proven, and rate payers in some areas like Bridgnorth will have an above average increase. Although it has been suggested by some councillors that there will dramatic savings they do not seem to be prepared to put our money where there mouth is, otherwise they would also be predicting equally dramatic cuts in the rates.   

Below are a short article from Mr Dunne’s web site and two letters from the Shropshire Star      

Give people a vote on town hall shake-up

They want to sweep away the district and borough councils in favour of a unitary authority based in Shrewsbury to run all our local services.

As a district councillor in South Shropshire, I was one of the few sufficiently worried about this reduction in local democracy that I voted against this Labour-inspired shake-up.

I have three main anxieties: we don’t know enough about what this reorganisation will cost taxpayers; we don’t know if the claimed savings through reducing bureaucracy will be achieved; and we must not forget that losing 150 councillors will leave small towns and villages without a voice.

I believe strongly in local democracy. Decisions should be taken as close to the people as possible. Unitary is a move to more central control with less local accountability and more decisions devolved to remote bureaucrats.

In an area as big as Shropshire, decisions affecting the Bridgnorth and South Shropshire districts would be dominated by Shrewsbury. Those campaigning for Ludlow Hospital recall that no-one from South Shropshire was on the County committee that approved the closure of Whitcliffe Ward. I fear this is an omen of what may follow with Unitary.

I joined with all other Conservative MPs in Shropshire last week in calling for a referendum to allow local people to make this decision. There have been 36 such referenda across Britain in recent years. People should have a say on how they are governed.

 

  We should get a vote on plans

The current question of whether we should stay with our present system of local government, or change it drastically to one where our representation is by one big unitary council could require the most important decision of our time.

Yet we can see and hear some of those who want to bring in the unitary council idea wanting the change to be imposed by their own decision, without our wishes even being ascertained by a referendum.

It’s a very good thing that Philip Dunne MP is so disinclined to allow this proposed insult to democracy.

As a confirmed conspiracy theorist I look for the gleam in the eyes of those small-time politicians who think they would be in line for big and well-paid jobs in a unitary set-up.

No wonder the question of costs is being skated over. All our experience shows the difficulty of accurately costing something new and untried

The amalgamation of The Princess Royal at Telford with Shrewsbury Royal Hospital is something we know a bit about.

The new Telford hospital was run by top doctors who knew what they were doing, highly valued and brilliantly supported by the community.

Amalgamation was imposed by politicians who thought they were thinking big. We now have bankruptcy, threats of dismissals and closures, and all the nightmare resulting from thinking too big.

Let’s have a referendum. Let us be the ones that make the decision, and I’ll be voting to keep local control.

David Lake Bridgnorth

Shake-up costs more than £20m

The price tag for abolishing the six councils of Shropshire to create one new one, and maybe one for the town of Shrewsbury is not just the £20m one-off cost for local taxpayers, or the potential ongoing costs of the change for Shrewsbury and Atcham taxpayers of possibly up to 15.5 per cent, but also the loss of our identity.

Shrewsbury has a history extending 1,000 years. We have managed our town, and since 1974 our borough, providing cost-effective services.

The county council has likewise provided excellent services. Why abolish them?

Is it to satisfy the political ambition of central government or the ambition of a few at Shirehall?

That is not what the public wants. We in Shrewsbury and Atcham have a track record of listening and we will seek views on this change.

I do not agree with the change, which will be costly and have decisions on Shrewsbury made by councillors from Ludlow, Market Drayton and other parts of the county.

The borough council has a proud record of achievements. We have ambitions to do more.

So what is the choice? Expensive change with no improvements and more tax for other parts of the county or continue to improve? The answer to me is clear – no change! Now I am getting back to representing the wishes of the public.

Judith Williams Shrewsbury

 

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