One area the Coalition must tackle if it’s serious about bridging the gap between people and power, are nonsensical and outdated processes within local government.
Currently, a new school in North Kingston has been proposed after years of lobbying and campaigning from local Conservative councillors, residents and parents. The application process to the government is an arduous, lengthy and frustrating procedure that can take years with often no end in sight.
However, the Church of England (the Diocese of Southwark) and Kingston Council are currently involved in the pitching process as to who should manage the school. That’s all fine you may think – the Lib Dems will side with the South West London Humanists and support the council’s bid – and most Conservative Councillors, including myself, support the Church of England bid. But, you may wonder, who makes the decision?
The council’s Executive? No. The Neighbourhood Committee that covers the area school is to be built in? Er, no. Ok, surely a vote will be taken during a Full Council meeting and councillors will be free to vote which way they please? I’m afraid not.
Then who, you may ask? Why, the Schools’ Adjudicator! Yep, I’ve no idea who he/she/they are either. An anonymous government official, who knows nothing about the area, doesn’t live in the borough and purely makes a decision based on process and paper.
What on earth is the point in residents voting for a local councillor if we can’t take or make these decisions ourselves? Why aren’t the two local MP’s also consulted on the final decision? For goodness sake, even allow our MEP’s to give their two-penneth worth if they so wish.
The Coalition has been good for localism but this is another example of democracy inaction. What was that slogan – Time for Change?