Thursday, June 14, 2007

Democracy is it real or just an illusion!

A continuing theme, in my blog is about those who govern our lives, and once again flicking through Kent County Council's propaganda sheet 'Around Kent' , I wonder how much of a democracy, we live in. I get the impression, that our local and county council are less important, as significant amounts of local issues are dealt with by apparently independent organisations, which although funded in the main from your local tax, are unelected and I think less accountable.

Certainly I have in the past mentioned, those organisations, that seemingly spring up from nowhere, with little or no democratic influence, locally we have the Turner contemporary, which is run by people often with limited connection to Margate, across Kent we have all kinds of regional agencies and quangos, like the East Kent partnership, or locate in Kent, whose directors, officers, participants, whatever seem to acquire their positions away from the glare of public scrutiny, in what looks like good old fashioned, back scratching patronage.

Another concern, which I find similarly disturbing, is the reliance which the Conservatives seem to have, in regard to chief executives, at county level, for instance, Peter Gilroy Kent council chief executive is credited with having the vision and drive to introduce a credit card of sorts in partnership with the Royal Bank of Scotland, now I have two problems with this, the first naturally being the fact that banks are not charities and neither is Kent County Council judging by their inflation-busting increased charges to the disabled.

The real problem I have, and this is not meant as a criticism of Peter Gilroy, is the impression that policy occaisionally emanates from a local authority official, rather than the elected leader of the council, Paul Carter. Now I don't suggest anything sinister or untoward, but I would feel more comfortable if policy was more attributable to the ruling party.

The way I see it, the chief-executive of Kent council, or locally Thanet council overriding role should be independent advice and management enabling our elected representatives to implement their policy. Obviously when you're paying someone, a quarter million pounds a year or thereabouts, you might expect them to come up with a few brilliant ideas, however these shouldn't really, have any more validity than anything you or I might come up with.

Finally for the average person, it looks bad or at least confusing when, as in the case of the Theatre Royal issue, here in Margate, it appeared that Richard Samuel (chief executive Thanet District Council), took a lead in explaining the intervention, something which really, I felt Sandy Ezekiel the Conservatives great orator, ought to have elaborated on at greater length (particularly since this remains a confusing situation).

1 comment:

  1. The essential difference is that BOTH Councils are now Officer led rather than Member led, this is blatantly obvious whenever there is a good news story, ( admitedly these are few and far between ) and a bad news story,we frequently see or hear Carter,Ezekiel, Latchford and co in the media proclaiming " all is well and what a coup this or that was" but when it comes to something that is likely to cause a backlash these good folks are strangely missing. Of course the whole Conservative organisation in Thanet and Kent would have more credibility if they stomped on these 'bright ideas' at conception because once you get to the birth it is rather more difficult to murder the baby.

    Cllr Mike Harrison.