Friday, 11 May 2012

Mr Sargeant - please don't forget the public.

In September,  Councillors of Ynys Môn Council may be given back the key to the executive chamber, and over a phased time period have power returned to them. You can read a transcript of Carl Sargeant, Minister for Local Government and Communities statement in  Paul Williams Druids Revenge blog.

Carl Sargeant, the Commissioners and the Audit Commission whilst not totally convinced that the problems of past "misbehavior, under-performance and petty squabbling" would not return, have concluded "there are no longer any serious risks."

I suspect though that the ratepayers of Ynys Môn will be far less optimistic as to the likelihood of good behavior continuing within the ranks of the islands Councillors.

And that in once sense is a problem with this process, is a feeling that nobody has really bothered to ask the ratepayers what they thought, what they wanted. Nor has anyone; it seems, asked how can we bring the ratepayers back on board and interested in the real issues that affect the island, and how through the democratic process can their concerns can be satisfactorily addressed.

Don't get me wrong in many ways a lot has been achieved since the Commissioners have been 'running the council' on behalf of Carl Sargeant. Procedures have been updated to improve the governance of the Council, and steps have been taken to ensure that the Council has in place a strong management team, which is something the Audit Commission has long identified as a weakness.

Then there is the decision of Carl Sargeant to change the island election boundaries for councillors to multi member wards, similar to what occurs in Scotland. I think it's a very good idea, and would urge Carl Sargeant, if he can to go further and adopt  Single Transferable Vote (STV) as a method of electing Councillors, again as they do in Scotland.

I would urge also the main political parties on the island to set aside their differences and work together on how they can encourage greater participation in the politics of the island. I seem to recall that there where moves made last year to this end, but have read little about it since.

I also read somewhere that there was a growing call within the Conservative Party to look at how candidates where selected, and whether the process could be widened so that a greater; shall we say, diversity of candidates be put forward, and not from a narrow pool of what may be portrayed as stereotypically candidates from any of the main political parties.

In terms of multi member wards one concern as expressed by Paul Williams is that it will make it harder for independent councillors to be elected, due to the size of the wards and lack of resources by independent candidates to canvass such wards. Can I make a suggestion that as part of the election process the Council could send out to all ratepayers a leaflet saying whom is standing in their ward, within which each candidate would be allowed; within limits, an opportunity to spell out why they should be elected as Councillor for that ward.

Which brings me neatly onto independent councillors, and a commonly asked question - Are independent councillors really Conservatives in disguise?

Interestingly the Political Studies Association in April also asked that question in respect of Councillors in England, and you can read their working draft by following this link - Independent Councillors.

Which sort of, in conclusion to the question -Are independent councillors really Conservatives in disguise? says  - No, but lots of them are.

Now there are many reasons why you would stand as a independent councillor - you may not have a great allegiance with any of the main political parties, or although you may support a political party you may have fallen out with the local party on a specific issue, or you may have been excluded from standing in the name of the local party for various reasons.

Of course one of the problems you have with independent councillors is in the most a lack of a manifesto, from which they can claim a mandate or on which the electorate can judge whether they have kept promises made.

There is also a lack of party discipline and or support, not that this means no good independent Councillors exist. But if you do have allegiances if not with the main political parties, maybe you should follow the lead of Llais Gwynedd, who formed their own party rather than some confusing case of being independent but yet being part of a group of Councillors with similar views and not therefore strictly speaking independent at all.

As to whether following next years council elections the long term future of Ynys Môn Council is secure may be academic, as I have said before there are far too many Council in Wales, and when the time is right a merger with Gwynedd and possibly Conwy is definitely on the political horizon. 

1 comment:

The Red Flag said...

The same dismal garbage is still in place. they are just sat there waiting. We'd have been better off scrapping the elections and wbeing run by commissioners until the day after the last joker was dead.