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OPINION: Local government in Cambridgeshire needs a major overhaul

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I was interested in the article written by former councillor Martin Curtis, as a “One Nation Conservative”.

I find myself in agreement with most of his views although I have my doubts about changing the electoral system from first by the post.

Yes, coalitions work, the Conservative/LibDem administration from 2021 to 2015 was a time of stable and sensible government, rescuing the country from the financial abyss.

My concern would be the horse trading between one of the big 2 with SNP, Greens, Welsh Nationalists and the DUP. Which I believe would cripple good governance.

Martin mentioned the number of councillors, I totally agree, in fact, I would go a lot further.

Local government in Cambridgeshire needs a major overhaul and re-organisation, the current proposal to levy a Combined Authority precept of £12 for buses highlights the point.

As a local taxpayer, I am now paying for:

  1. A Parish/Town Council
  2. District Council
  3. County Council
  4. Police Commissioner
  5. Fire Authority
  6. Combined Authority

This is unsustainable as well as very expensive.

Each of these organisations are supported by a chief executive, with support staff, pensions, perks etc. the cost of these salaries must exceed £2m.

If you add in a full support staff, finance, planning and leisure directors plus many more, the whole bureaucratic top layer for these organisations must top £20m.

What’s happening in Fenland

In Fenland we are represented by 39 councillors, soon to be increased to 43 plus 8 county councillors and numerous parish/town councillors.

Surely it’s time to look again at this set up, the last reorganisation was in 1998 when Peterborough was granted independence.

But abolishing at least one of these layers would reduce the number of councillors and bureaucrats resulting in less civic premises and offices, which would mean further significant savings.

Of course, councillors themselves won’t provoke this; turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. Many councillors a dual hatters or triple hatters representing multiple councils, (yes I was one of them) I can speak on this with some authority.

In conclusion, time for change.

 

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