Friday, 2 January 2015

Knowle relocation project: and the longer-term demise of district councils... comparing the West Dorset relocation project: part three

MP Hugo Swire has suggested consideration of the move from Knowle be "put on hold" because the District Council "should see how the structure of local government pans out":
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: "The prudent thing to do is put everything on hold."

This of course is all about the myriad questions around devolving powers:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and the longer-term demise of district councils... a summary of the issues so far...

Meanwhile in West Dorset, there have been moves to change the structure of local government:
Futures Forum: East Devon and West Dorset: relocation projects compared
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: comparing the West Dorset relocation project
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: comparing the West Dorset relocation project: part two

However, it seems that some folk in West Dorset are not happy with either the arrangement made on their behalf by their District Council - or by the way this arrangement was handled.

Two crucial questions will be raised and debated at a public meeting next week - which echo directly concerns in East Devon:

Firstly, how West Dorset District Council currently applies/uses the Cabinet system in local government.
Secondly, should WDDC (and Dorset Council Council) at least be actively investigating the costs/benefits of moving to a Unitary system, removing the middle (District Council) tier, and bringing decision-making, and spending, closer to the public it affects locally?
Power to the public (From Dorset Echo)
Let's have talks on a unitary authority for Dorset (From Dorset Echo)

This is from the BBC earlier this week, reporting on that meeting:

Dorset residents call meeting to discuss changing council structure

31 December 2014 Last updated at 09:51

Corn Exchange, DorchesterThe meeting is to take place at the Corn Exchange in Dorchester

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A public meeting is being held by campaigners to gauge support for a change in council structure in Dorset.
The event is to be chaired by civil rights attorney Clive Stafford Smith, who is based in the county.
John Grantham arranged the Public First meeting after he became frustrated crucial issues were not being discussed enough at West Dorset District Council.
He said it would save money if Dorset was to become one unitary authority, which runs all local services.
'Axiomatic and essential'
This would be in place of a two-tier structure where services are divided between district and county councils.
Mr Grantham said the unitary authority structure had worked well in Wiltshire since 2009.
Mr Grantham hopes councillors from the Green Party, Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and UKIP will attend.
He said a number of Conservative members had been invited but it is so far unclear if any plan to attend.
The campaigner said: "It may be a bit unpredictable, maybe a bit untidy at times in view of the likely variety of views expressed, but the common bond between hopefully all attending will be an utter conviction that democratic expression and discussion is axiomatic and essential in this area of the country on the crucial topics being examined."
He said the idea had been growing for a long time after trying to appeal to the district council over various planning issues and said many people found the way the district council works "stultifying".
The meeting is on Wednesday 7 January at the Corn Exchange in Dorchester.

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From other news sites

BBC News - Dorset residents call meeting to discuss changing council structure

The local press has been very busy with articles on the meeting:
Discussions to take place in Dorset to discuss council structure | Western Gazette
Public First debate in Dorchester puts council structure under spotlight | Blackmore Vale Magazine
Have your say at first of its kind meeting (From Dorset Echo)

The EDA blog has some interesting comment:

One thought on “Dorset resident arranges public meeting to press for unitary council

  1. An interesting post. It is worth noting that this discussion is to be chaired by Clive Stafford Smith, the distinguished laywer best known for taking on abuses of human rights, and representing prisoners awaiting execution internationally. Well done West Dorset people.
    Clive’s international work is of course immensely grave and on a different scale to any dificulties we have around here.
    That said, however, many of us who have become grateful to be able to share our Independent viewpoints with the East Devon Alliance forum have had repeated (and increasingly astonishing) experience of the dangerous arrogance of own local institutions.
    The price of freedom, as we know, is eternal vigilance.
    As next May approaches, would we do well to think about what kind of characters we want populating the seats in our local council chambers? Time-servers and party hacks? Or Independents? And to ask the question – why did we ever decide a few decades ago to allow national political parties to dominate district governement. And what will we do about that now?
    Maybe all the Independent minded people and possible candidates out there need to think hard about exactly how you can swap frustrated observation from the touchlines for actually standing up for transparent and accountable democracy. Actions speak louder than words.
    You have about three and a half months to decide how this might be achieved ….
Dorset resident arranges public meeting to press for unitary council | East Devon Alliance

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