Dr David Thame of Lingen, Herefordshire, says councillors should expect to be open (From Hereford Times)
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Dr David Thame of Lingen, Herefordshire, says councillors should expect to be open
8:00am Saturday 23rd June 2012 in Letters
IS IT now Hereford Times policy that anyone is entitled to break the law the moment the law is inconvenient?
That was the implication of your opinion column (Readers’ Times June 14, ‘Red tape could kill services to parish’) and it's irresponsible.
The new regulations forcing parish councillors to disclose their financial interests are long overdue.
It goes without saying that Herefordshire has many dedicated parish councils and excellent parish councillors.
These public-minded councils will understand the law's logic, and will follow it, appreciating that acting like a serious law-abiding, open and transparent local council it is a necessary trade-off for enhanced powers.
But it's also true that others aren't so thoughtful.
There are still too many parish councillors who have virtually hereditary, or for-life seats, and who have got too used to holding office. They seem to regard their parish council as a private club, and resent any constraint (or any questions).
Although they complain about a lack of volunteers, new volunteers are the very last thing they want to see muscling in on their cosy set up. The new regulations will help encourage them to be careful about the decisions they make.
If parish councillors don't like the regulations, they could always step down, freeing up a place for a volunteer prepared to play by the rules.
Being a volunteer does not excuse – can never excuse – breaking the law, or highhandedly disregarding it. Today, despite welcome changes, there are still too many parish councils that combine a be-quiet-and-begrateful attitude with a nasty dose of we-know-best all smothered in self-congratulation on an epic scale. If they are to assume the powers offered by the Localism Act, then they need to dump these unhelpful ways as quickly as they can.
DR DAVID THAME Lingen, Herefordshire
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