A White Paper (pdf) from the Department for Communities has a bunch of ideas cobbled together to "pass power into the hands of local communities. We want to generate vibrant local democracy in every part of the country, and to give real control over local decisions and services to a wider pool of active citizens.". A couple of thoughts.
1. "We will introduce a right of appeal where a community’s proposal for a local council is denied by the local authority." So senior Councils have no proper right to refuse. The Government clearly wants as many Councils as far down as possible with the idea being that itll give more representation and better governance. What itll actually lead to is a bureaucratic spaghetti bolognese leading to confusion and waste of public resources. In local government, less is more.
2. "We will give councils the power to provide modest incentives for voting – perhaps an entry into a prize draw – as a way of engaging people.". If people dont want to vote, then they dont want to vote. The idea that there should be a prize draw for those who choose to exercise the right to vote is disgusting. Its a low level bribe.
3. The Widdicombe rules should remain and local Labour should come out and say that they disagree with Hazel Blears. Council officers should never be councillors. THey must remain distinct roles.
A lot of the plans here will require more public spending, unless this is another example of the Government ordering Councils to do more with less... Public spending must be severely restrained in this difficult economic climate and the idea that we should spend money on incentives to encourage the public to vote or to have more advisors is not the right way to use such scarce resources.