Sunday, 31 July 2011

Watch out ! There are (local) Party politicians about !

It has only recently struck me how much legislation is designed in  a vain attempt to control or counteract the inadequacy of Party politicians where they have responsibility for actual decision-making.

Currently the department of Communities & Local Government has consulted before legislating to privatise and modernise Local Public Audit. There is debate about how to secure audit independence, and auditor selection and appointment when in fact there are established  or frequently updated safeguards in custom and practise. But it seems that this is not safe with local councils who must have an Audit Committee with balanced party representation. As if we wouldn’t notice if Surrey CC appointed Messrs Hide, Fix and Fiddle, Accountants, of Back Street Woking. In other words they are not regarded as competent to decide on their own and cannot be trusted.

Because the local politicians elected to run their councils are not expected to be experienced or of sound judgement, and might bully their professional staff  there must be a statutory officer (sec 151 Officer) to be responsible for vetting financial forecasts and adequacy of reserves. In other words they are not competent to decide and cannot be trusted.

Select Committees have been the thing for years now at Westminster because of the shortcomings of the House of Commons chamber for governance. Now it is required of local councils to have them too. This in spite of their membership of committees having to be politically  ‘balanced’. In fact they may well not have relevant knowledge or judgement for their subject. And their talking shops conflict with the purposes and objectives of line management at the top of which sits “political management”.  In other words they are collectively not competent to decide and cannot be trusted.

Councils have large staffs to answer their members’ questions. But at taxpayers’ expense they are  also allowed to employ political assistants.  In other words they get away with murder even if they are not competent to decide and cannot be trusted.

And taxpayers have to pay for all the extra rituals, regulations and restrictions necessary to keep politicians from doing too much damage.