As I sat through the latest full council meeting at Ashfield District Council, it confirmed what I already knew - that we need a radical shake up in our local government in Nottinghamshire.
As I watched the Labour leadership vote down my motion to apply further reductions to councillors’ allowances, I couldn’t help but think that district councillors in general are a waste of money. I proposed that, in addition to previously agreed reductions to councillors’ pay further down the managerial scale, the council’s leaders should also take their fair share of the reduction.
I thought that a council that calls itself ‘Socialist’ would agree that the management should take it’s share of the hit, especially as many of them take home more than Ashfield’s average full time salary for what is a part time position.
It has never been more clear in my mind as I listened to almost every Labour councillor in the room (which wasn’t that many as nine didn’t even bother to show up!) try to tell me that they are worth the money they get, that things need to change.
District councils were introduced in the 1970s to offer a more local touch, and to give residents more of a say. Maybe it worked then, but I think it’s pretty clear now that Ashfield residents don’t feel they have any control at all. Over 7,000 protested about changes to waste collection but were ignored. Ashfield Homes residents’ groups said they didn’t want changes to their management but they were ignored. So many people talk to me about how housing affects our local services, but responses to ‘consultations’ never seem to be heard.
To me district councils have had their day, and we need to be radical with our solutions. The level of services they are actually responsible for has fallen to almost nothing, and yet we still pay for all of that administration and bureaucracy. It may be an odd thing to hear because I am a district councillor myself, but the world doesn’t not need district councils, and Hucknall would be better off without.