Draft Local Government (Organisation and Standards) Bill Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence - First Report


Memorandum by Olga Calnan

  I should like to suggest the following reforms

  (1)  It seems that the party Whip is used to prevent real discussion. It should be rarely used and never to stifle genuine dissent.

  (2)  Consultation exercises should be scrutinized from the outset by a panel of appropriate citizens. The format of the questionnaire should be carefully considered.

  (3)  All Councillors should clearly understand that they represent their ward members first and the Party, second. No Councillor should have to vote against his conscience.

  (4)  There should be a fast route for complaints from electors about the performance of Council officers; underperformance should not be tolerated and salaries should not be inflated as an incentive to better performance. The incentive should be, to do the job properly or to be demoted.

  (5)  A referendum should state clearly the powers of elected Councillors. The electorate should have some form of control over policy decisions and should monitor performance.

  (6)  Rises in Councillors emoluments should be across-the-board and not excessive, or the principle of public service will be lost.

  (7)  Councillors must retain the power to affect decision-making; mere scrutiny after the decisions are made will reduce them to impotence in the eyes of the electorate and nobody will bother to vote for impotent Councillors, however sympathetic and available they make themselves.

10 July 1999

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