Apparently Guy Burchett is ‘tired of complaints that local government is slow at decision making” and feels “that’s how it’s supposed to be” in his blog over at The Guardian. It may well be that decision making needs to be a considered process and that rash decisions should be avoided but to suggest that councils are “protecting democracy” as a result is complete nonsense – we posted a reply but perhaps it won’t see light of day, so here it is.
“Protecting democracy” what nonsense.
Many senior council officials are power-mad dictators whose main concern is the lining of their own pockets; they act under the guise of “protecting the public purse” while making all sorts of decisions that drain valuable resources and deliver zero outcomes for the rate payers.
In a recent report, we had the former head of Bexley council, Nick Johnson, who was away from work on full pay for six months, left his job due to illness with a £300,000 handout and a £50,000 pension then went immediately into a new job as a consultant for Hammersmith & Fulham council earning £950 a day and passing lucrative contracts to a housing association run by his partner. Despite being unfit and taking rate payers money he managed to earn £830,000 in his role as interim chief executive.
It’s been determined that he’s done “nothing wrong” but what he has done is completely undermine any faith the rate and tax payer has in the whole system and caused yet another rift between the servant (the council) and the master (the rate payer).
And don’t even get me started on Andrea Hill of Sussex council!
When councils get it back in their head that they work for the people and not the other way around, then perhaps we can look at their decision making processes in a less jaundiced way – until that happens, they will continue to look and feel like organisations that have lost their way and are only concerned about one thing – what senior council officials can skim from the system for themselves.
To suggest that councils are, in some way, protecting democracy is laughable to say the least – what’s democratic about rubbish bin enforcement officers or road blocks to stop and sniff works vans to see if a driver has been smoking while at the same time elderly residents of care homes are left to fester or are abused to the point of death?
Yes, I have generalised and tarred all council officials with the same brush but isn’t that how the system works now; generalisation that dictates that all people have to be treated like criminals and leave it to them to prove otherwise – that’s exactly what council democracy is all about after all.