The Role of Local Councils Handcuffed by Central Governments?

download-76The Councillors Commission report I referred to in an earlier blog has now been published on the web and can be read everywhere. The report is ostensibly about the incentives and barriers that encourage or deter people from standing for election as councilors. One of the constraints the Commission had when examining the role of local councilors is that this has been increasingly prescribed by Central Government:

“They need freedom to make local decisions. At present this is almost entirely circumscribed. Local councilors coming in on a wave of enthusiasm soon find that in almost every area of service delivery they are merely agents of Government policy and unable to do what the electorate would like and believe they voted for”.

Not surprisingly, local electorates perceive local councils as an extension of Central Government and to some extent irrelevant to determining distinctive local solutions. We have, in effect, come full circle from the 1980’s, when local councils had significantly more power but, this freedom was abused by extremist groups (Trots, Militant Tendency, Derek Hatton et al). The report acknowledges recent calls for more devolvement to local Government:

“The case for a far stronger local dimension in our public life has been advanced by a number of recent inquiries and reports. Last year’s Power to the People report called for an unambiguous decentralization of powers from central to local government on the basis of findings which mirrored our own research (Power Inquiry, 2013).”“Michael Lyons’ inquiry (Lyons, 2013) evolved into the most extensive examination of local government in recent times. His term place-shaping – a similar concept to what others call civic leadership – describes his view that: – the ultimate purpose of local government should not solely be to manage a collection of public services, but, rather to pursue the well-being of a place and the people who live there by whatever means are necessary and available.”

The report then ploughs on into participatory democracy and diversity issues. It’s clear from the report narrative that there was much disagreement on the recommendations among the Commission’s members.  However, until the fundamental issue of devolvement is addressed by Central Government, the electorate will continue to have a degree of cynicism about whether local councils are serving local interest……..and this report will simply gather dust….and Central Government will continue to over regulate & direct local government.


An offshore windfarm

John Hutton Energy Minister announced plans today to build thousands of wind powered generators in offshore wind farms ….

Environmental campaigners and opposition MP’s welcomed the plan, but some noted that wind generated power is currently significantly more expensive to generate than its coal-or gas-generated counterpart. The reason for this is not only the high capital expense of construction but also the significant cost of standby generation for when the wind isn’t blowing. The likely standby source of energy will be …..oil fired power stations.

The thousands of new offshore wind generators are set to change the face of Britian’s coastline for ever. Is this the price of appeasing the anti nuclear lobby?

Fascinating papers are also available on trends in worldwide emissions based on locally produced emissions and also emissions we cause in other countries to produce our imported goods & materials. Although you won’t see this basis in any Government accounting of their CO2 emissions.