Tag Archives: local councils

Government tells councils they must meet in public after May local elections – that is neither practical nor safe

Local councils have been meeting online during the pandemic. After a few teething problems, the practice of meeting online has worked well. But yesterday the government declared councils must meet in public after 7 May. Many councillors think this is too early. A good many councils, including Ludlow Town Council and Shropshire Council, do not have suitable buildings to accommodate all their councillors, let alone members of the public, while social distancing remains in place.

Vaccination is under way but having kept myself safe for a year, I think this is too risky. Up to 74 councillors and at least 25 officers and public attend Shropshire’s unitary council in a chamber set out like a university lecture hall. My local town council meets in a cheek by jowl Guildhall that is socially cramped. The parish council I chair had 30 people at one online meeting recently. There is nowhere in the parish big enough for a meeting that size even in normal times.

This is retrograde move that will reduce the effectiveness of local democracy. Not for once, ministers are out of touch with reality.

Posted in Op-eds | 15 Comments

Opinion: Tough Choices – Yes, but local politicians must grasp opportunities as well as challenges

Sheffield Town HallI doubt that there are many councillors who are unaware of the scale of the country’s financial difficulties. Yet whatever your prescription for resuscitating the British economy, politicians of all parties agree that reducing the deficit is a crucial piece in the puzzle.

Regardless of your views on the Government’s strategy, it is clear that reductions in council budgets are a reality. The challenge for councillors is to best adjust to the new climate and mitigate the impact on the services that people care about most.

I do not believe that the way forward is to abandon all council services, leaving local government as a sole provider of social care. Rather, local government should be taking the lead in innovative ways of thinking – taking bold steps to cut waste, not just services.

Posted in Local government and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments
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