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S C Brown of Birtley, Bucknell, says localism is just a sham for parishes
4:00pm Wednesday 11th July 2012 in Letters
YOUR opinion column of June 14 was interesting but avoided two issues.
The first is that localism is a sham.
It was meant to be bottom up government. Actually it has turned out to be the reverse.
Instead of being a mechanism by which locals could have more say, in conjunction with the National Planning Policy Framework, it turns out to be a way for central government to impose its will more effectively.
Parish plans must accord with county plans which must accord with the NPPF. What's local or bottom up about that?
And if a parish doesn’t produce a plan, or the plan is rejected at the local referendum stage, the parish will have an action plan imposed upon it. Localism is nothing more than a clever device for obscuring greater central control – and it is clever – as clever and deceiving as the very best camouflage.
The other issue is that parish councils are far too small and illequipped to really make anything of localism in its present form.
Administration costs swallow a disproportionate amount of receipts and are replicated in every tiny little parish.
I have little sympathy for a clerk who finds himself overwhelmed, paid or not. He should withhold his labour.
If he had been joined by the multitude of clerks who find themselves in the same position perhaps they might have gone some way towards making central government understand that it’s best to think through the practicalities of implementing an ideology before attempting to convert it into a policy.
It might have been a small step in the process of converting the amateurish enthusiasm that once sufficed into the business-like methods that localism demands.
Based on my experience of my parish and contrary to the view of this organ I have no problem with parish councillors being made to be accountable. In return for accountability and professionalism I would give them more power by amalgamating the whole lot into ward councils. Wards would have more clout and might help to challenge the authoritarianism of county councils operating the cabinet system.
After all, that is the spirit of localism and such a set-up might attract more capable recruits.
I suggest that parish councillors and clerks resign en masse until the government puts a great deal more thought into the fandango it calls localism.
The problem is that if they all resigned, would anyone notice?
S C BROWN, Birtley, Bucknell.
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