I cannot stand local politics, there, I’ve said it out loud. I need the council to empty my bins and keep the street clean and well lit and free of potholes. I also need the council for the education facilities that my Daughter uses.
But I really don’t think I need an extra layer of politics to run these services.
Some Councillors are very good at what they do, they can get help to an elderly resident that wouldn’t normally be budgeted for, however, many have a day job and with the best will in the world that will take precedence over their council duties.
Then there’s the committees…. there’s the licencing committee, the planning committee and so on and so on. Given that in many councils these committees aren’t fully staffed with Councillors then the decision making may be left to the very person that has some kind of a personal interest because they know the applicant in some way.
What I’m getting at here is whether we actually need local politics at all. It doesn’t seem to achieve anything apart from upsetting parents when as in my case the local Labour run council tried to cut hours from the local primary schools in a cost cutting exercise, then at the last minute bow to local pressure. Some say it was a political ploy and that wouldn’t surprise me.
They play games with the political power they have and that’s never good for any resident.
Let me lay out an alternative for you, it’s broadly termed “Centralisation”, and that word is guaranteed to make any Labour politician gag on his or her own tongue. The reason? Simple, more local government with more powers gives Labour an opportunity to gain “jobs for the boys” and by doing that favours are exchanged and settled with a little step up the ladder.
I’m not suggesting for one minute that we instantly close every council depot, no, I want those depot’s manned to the hilt by people that are getting a decent living wage, it’s the big glass towers filled with little tin gods where I have a problem and the “fill a seat” councillors who consider local politics as a good way to increase their salary over and above their day job.
Imagine a situation where a central department plan and organise everything that all the councils do locally such as bin collection. On that one point, enough savings would be made to run a bin collection service for every area in Scotland, have enough in the pot to pay the staff a decent wage and have enough left over to reintroduce collections of large items such as discarded suites and beds etc. without having to charge for the service.
Lighting would be upgraded to LED technology on a planned roll-out throughout Scotland which would light our streets better than with the old orange sodium lights and at a fraction of the cost. A rollout like that could take place because the savings alone would pay for the change over and the LED technology lamps last much, much longer which cuts out the need for constant maintenance by an outside contractor. The reason every council hasn’t grabbed at LED technology is simply that they can’t see the savings for their own geographical area and besides, it would eat into the budget too much. Centralisation allows big decisions to be made which have big economies of scale.
Also consider that an area “House Keeper” would ensure that the public spaces, paths and buildings were kept up to a good standard of repair. Have you ever wondered why simple things like railing fences are allowed to rust to the point where the only thing that can be done is either remove them or replace them? Surely a bit of paint and one man painting every one in a “Forth Road Bridge” schedule is better than that? You see Councils are very wasteful because they make wrong decisions. They see maintenance as a cost they can easily remove but don’t consider what the place will look like without that maintenance in say, ten years.
After all, when you consider that the Councillors will have been elected out of office by then so its better for them to put the money into things that’ll possibly get them re-elected, eh? Vanity projects are always good for election prospects but they drain money from the basics such as simple maintenance that keeps the place in good order.
Then we have the political moves where say the SNP have the councillors to form the local administration and then we see Labour and Tory councillors forming a coalition to take power away locally, that makes a straightforward mockery of local elections and causes power struggles which can be destructive to local services. Not good, not good at all.
It may be that you, the reader are a good Councillor doing the best for the residents of your community, however, if that’s the case, there are precious few of you….
Time for change, time for a rethink as to how we deliver better local services and how we pay the people that provide them.
If we move to a centralised method of running our local services, we’ll cut out a whole raft of politicians, administrators and huge costs and get better services into the bargain.
It’s a bigger bang for our buck.
I move to table the motion.