Thursday, 24 March 2011

Serial Drama

We rather helpfully know what the Government thinks of the standards board:

Andrew Stunell:
"The Standards Board regime ended up fuelling petty complaints and malicious vendettas. Nearly every council had investigations hanging over them - most of which would be dismissed but not before reputations were damaged and taxpayer money was wasted. Frivolous allegations undermined local democracy and discouraged people from running for public office.

"That's why we are axing the unpopular and unelected standards board regime. Instead we will legislate to ensure that if a councillor is corrupt and abuses their office for personal gain they will be dealt with in the criminal courts. If a councillor behaves ineffectively or irresponsibly then it's a matter for the electorate not an unelected quango.

"This Government is freeing councillors from central prescription and top down bureaucracy so they can get on with their job. In the future councillors must expect to be judged at the ballot box by an electorate with real access to their accounts and personal interests in a new transparent era."

Eric Pickles:

"The standards board regime became the problem, not the solution. Unsubstantiated and petty allegations, often a storm in a teacup, damaged the reputation and standing of local government, as well as wasting taxpayers' money."

Wasting taxpayers money indeed. I really hate it when I end up agreeing with Eric Pickles!

The Chair of the local standards board gets an allowance of £2,385. All complaints have to be formally assessed by a senior council employee. They then might require further investigation. I would estimate the cost of the panel to be at least £10,000 per year if you take into account all the resources and officer time required.

Our local panel has already determined that it is okay for Labour councillors to use offensive language in the council chamber "in the cut and thrust of debate". The High Court has determined that they have no right to rule when a person is not on official council business. The national standards board is being abolished with the localism bill.
Maybe I should keep quiet that I'm the editor of Up the Arse! - Arsenal's Premier Spurs Bashing Fanzine.

They really wouldn't like it one little bit!

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