Long overdue that councillors take charge at our councils

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.

Too powerful? Niall Bolger, CEO of Sutton Council

Too powerful? Niall Bolger, CEO of Sutton Council

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.’

Out of order“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.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Business, Croydon Council, Environment, Julie Belvir, Nathan Elvery, Niall Bolger, Nick Mattey, Refuse collection, Sutton Council, Waste incinerator and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Long overdue that councillors take charge at our councils

  1. It’s also time that MPs held the executive to account (sorry, must be in LaLal and).
    Here is my recent outraged comment to a national newspaper:

    The Horrible Undemocratic truth is that VW and other manufacturers have been pushing at a door left open by a breathtaking hypocrisy

    “Revealed: British ministers tried to block EU moves to clean up air quality”


    One of the biggest problems caused by the xenophobic politics of GB is the useless journalism around the EU Parliament.Ministerial, officials’ and PM meetings (secret or public) provide the preparatory haggle-time and go deeply unreported by a scientifically illiterate journalocracy.Whether its the range of rules on industrial pollution (coal fired powerstations,cement kilns,chemical plants and incinerators,to name a few),air quality laws and now vehicle testing there is a really confusing split picture.At home the greenest governments ever talk good intentions (lying excessively),abroad they are actively sabotaging ANY move to clean our air whilst promoting the vested interests of the car,aeroplane and construction industries..When you see a political announcment how are you to know from what direction or stage of these wide manipulative processes it comes?

    If you know the bases of the science you will spot the lies very quickly…are most politicians also scientifically illiterate…unfortunately this is true.Do governments wish to support statistical measurement as a basis of policy development? You must be joking..ALL governments make it as difficult as possible to follow a historical,number crunching,pure measurement critique….of ANYTHING.They change the systems to break like for like continuity,they remove monitoring altogether,they deliberately remove or suppress reports that would show any failure TO COMPLY IWTH THEIR OWN STATED POLICIES!
    STATISTICS immediately expose the wide variety of lies the British public are confronted with daily.

    MAKING IT SOMEONE ELSE’S FAULT is a tried and tested method of deflecting responsibility.Now it’s your local council that is supposed to be the frontline defence against lethal air pollution.I knew you would feel really reassured by that little wheeze….here,in Sutton…they have a truly breathtaking record.
    Any ideas about how to break into ,or break, these awful, lethal,child-damaging games, anyone?
    You will see all or most of the industry and the governments tricks in the suppression,diversion and distortion of the investigations that the VW scandal should bring.To VW and all manufacturers.The public have been conned,car buyers have been conned and the Inhabitants of London and all connurbations have been conned and killed.


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