CROYDON COMMENTARY: Our report last week about a controversial meeting between Sutton Council’s chief executive and one of the borough’s councillors annoyed our loyal reader ARNO RABINOWITZ. But he was not surprised
There’s a terrifying tendency, not only in Croydon and Sutton, for the council’s chief executives, and in Croydon their senior legal officers, too, to behave as if they are in absolute control and that the elected councillors are mere foot soldiers for their grandiose plans.
The idea of any paid official telling off an elected member, as is alleged to have happened with Councillor Nick Mattey in Sutton, or, as has happened in Croydon, instructing them what to think and how to behave is unbelievable. It is time for our councillors to take charge again and make sure that paid officials carry out the policies decided by them, the elected representatives of the people, and not the other way round.
In many other local authorities voters are beginning to urge their councillors to stop being subservient to the Elverys and Bolgers of this world.
In nearby Bexley, Name N Shame, a local website similar to but, of course, nowhere near as good as Inside Croydon asks:
“So when did council officers stop being public servants? Yes, there was a time when officers of the council were paid a moderate salary to look after our interests; to provide us with basic amenities that made our lives less arduous, and to give us towns and cities we could be proud of. Now these same bureaucrats are paid exorbitant salaries to dream up half-witted schemes that will irritate us to death and cost us a lot of money. Money that comes from the bottomless purse called Council Tax.”
And an interesting item from The Guardian on Wednesday April 26, 2006:
“As the campaign for the town halls slips up a gear, another battle for local government is taking place in the foothills of the world wide web. Subversive sites with names such as ‘Rotten Borough’ and ‘Arrogant Councils’ have been set up over the past three years not for single issue campaigns, but to challenge the whole culture of local government.
“If they have a collective view it is that the ballot box is not the solution to local government problems: it is not the political complexion, but the set-up and behaviour of the town halls which is offensive and expensive.
“Rotten Borough was set up in 2003 by Ian Johnston, 38, a self-employed gardener from Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire who became disenchanted with local politics after serving as an independent borough councillor. He said, ‘I had hoped to represent the interests of the people who elected me; instead I became an insignificant part of a bloated system designed to serve the personal interest of its employees and their cronies.’
“Completely cynical about the possibility of reform, he says ‘I expect this extortion will continue until civil disobedience persuades those complacent politicians to do something about it. Disobedience might as well start here.’
“If this sounds like a single embittered man, it is a bitterness widely repeated, as his site is replete with named examples of council misconduct posted by ‘victims of the establishment.’”
In his comment on the article published last week about council CEO Niall Bolger’s attempt to intimidate a Sutton councillor who dared question in public the policy of the council over the Beddington Lane incinerator, my fellow correspondent “Joeycan” asked: “How much longer will the people of Croydon and Sutton have to put up with these undemocratic challenges to legitimate governance?”
It is a fair point and one which we should all consider very seriously.
- Conflicts of interest exposed over councillor’s old pals act
- Tom Brake link to £275,000 church donation from incinerator company
- Sutton official tried to influence vote at incinerator meeting
- Infant death rates on the rise where incinerators operate
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