Monday, January 12, 2015

The campaign for Mid Suffolk 2015: vote for me, and I'll abolish myself?

Yes, District (and Parish) Council elections are rapidly approaching, and it's time to start thinking about ideas for the manifesto.

I'm not really convinced that such a thing has to be too detailed - centrally imposed restrictions mean that differences between the approaches of the different political parties are often limited to style, nuance and basic competence - so you're effectively talking about a few big things that will resonate.

Local government finance (yes, I know, but bear with me here...) is one of those things that very few of the public pay attention to, even though it determines so much in terms of local services delivered. And, here in Suffolk, we still have three tiers of local government - county, district and town/parish - an arrangement which comes with a degree of cost.

That cost, according to John Denham, was £26 million in the five years to 2014/15, plus £21 million per year in the following five years - money that could have been spent on protecting services if one was so minded. Of course, those figures were estimates, and the Government might have taken the opportunity to cut the central grant even further, but the implications are clear. I am told that, in Shropshire, the financial savings that accrued from moving to a unitary county were bigger than the original estimate, and Suffolk is not wholly dissimilar.

So, moving to a unitary Suffolk seems like a sensible, fiscally sound move - it's just that neither Labour or the Conservatives are willing to sacrifice power to achieve it...

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