Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Unitary Riddle II

Apparently we shouldn't judge Norwich City Council in its current form (because it isn't very good) on its suitability to be a unitary authority because the unitary would be a new council.

Except that we should judge Norfolk County Council in its current form and its current policies as a reason for unitary (i.e. the current administration at County Hall is doing things City Hall doesn't like) rather than examining the relationship between two tiers of government.

Unitary riddle or Labour hypocrisy?


Thomas Garrod said...

It made me laugh when Labour MPs used examples of recent county council decisions to justify the need for a Unitary Authority. We didn't need any, but this is even more evidence that it is purely a political decision!

Hope you are well,


Tom Garrod

Ray said...

But Antony, some of the things that the County Council is currently doing isn't well liked.
Even you have supported a Council motion against the Day Care Center closure ats City Hall. Is this an example of the City Council not liking a policy of the County.

I have to admit I am one of those individuals who support the decision for Unitary Norwich based on the fact that urban needs are different compared to rural. Plus Norwich is an economic driver and needs to have an authority than understands its local needs.

You talk about it becoming political - I think its an area we can both agree on Antony, but where we part is the fact I don't pin all the blame on the Labour executive an City Hall or the Labour government for that matter.
The Tories have done their fair share of playing partisan politics on the matter. Just look at the behaviour of Tories at a local level with regards to Daniel Cox.

You forget that a Labour government was elected in 2005 with a mandate to govern. So therefore it is likely that Labour MP's will vote for a decision in which the government has set out.
Remember how our political system is structured. You cannot attack Labour for behaving in according to the Government on this one. This criticism is unjustified.

Anonymous said...

But Ray thats the point - it seems as if Labour are doing Unitary because they hate the county Tories. If so that isn't a reason for local government reogranisation. I have voted for all 4 parties in the last 10 years in City elections and I think this plays very badly with local people.

Red Star said...

Anon. Policy is politics! Without politics you have no policy.

I agree partly with your point, although I would argue that if the Norwich City Council does not agree with something the County Council is doing and it has a mandate from the people of Norwich this reflects a DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT. A majority of people in Norwich have not voted for a Tory admin, but the County instead.

To list but a few the reregulation of buses with the Quality Bus Contract (agreed by the City, thrown out the the County), Keeping the Day Centres (agreed by the City in a motion, while the County is pushing on with the closures), switching lights off (still waiting to see if Antony actually agrees with this one, but I do not see anyone at City proposing the same).

The problem we are getting is how ever much the Tories argue against this point, the majority of people in Norwich have voted for someone other than Tories. I agree this is looking at the political makeup and that in itself should not be a precursor to local government regulation. BUT the DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT in terms of policy surely is.

The problem to put it simply is that the elected representatives (who are elected by the people of Norwich) at the City do not agree with the County's policy. Furthermore policy making at a County level reflects a democratic deficit. i.e. Quality Bus Contract, Day Centres.

For the record I do agree with Ray on these points he has put forward. I do think we are seeing a microcosm of a Tory government and the cutting machine at work.
You can almost see the foaming at the mouth ideologues wanting to cut their way through everything.

We need to protect public services while at the same time not making stupid decisions like turning lights off, or kicking elderly people out of day centres.

I would like to see a genuine Democratic Socialist administration (sadly the Labour party are no longer), in a new Unitary Norwich, decisions made in Norwich by the elected representatives of Norwich

Antony said...

Red Star - you only believe that a democratic deficit works in your favour. Surrey has no Labour MPs, does that mean it can opt out of government legisations? Bowthorpe has Tory councillors and yet Labour Councillors from Mile Cross voted on the Three Score development which has nothing to do with them so can we opt out of the council on this? No, because you play by the rules and you know them when you take part. Labour are pushing unitary because they hate having a Tory County Council - simple as, you'd be better off just admitting it. As much as City Labour have masked this by saying its about structures and savings, now at least Cllr Steve Morphew (Lab Leader) is admitting it is political. Hence why the govt ignored ALL advise (including their own former Secs of State).

Captain Kirk said...

The government ignored the advice of the boundary commission because it didn't make sense. SIMPLE AS. Unitary Norfolk would have been a disaster.

Plus, it seemed only a few wanted (at County Hall) a Unitary Norfolk. I believe you were against this Antony? So did you have a different opinion to Daniel Cox?

As for your comments directed at Red Star - you seem to confuse the issue of mandates and representation, and seem to discredit your previous argument. If Labour MPs are voting for a Unitary Norwich it is because they have got a mandate to govern. The govt gets its mandate from the number of MPs in Parliament.
The Conservatives are the opposition so they will vote against the government accordingly.

However you start to confuse the issue when it comes to local politics. You are saying its an inherent political decision but if we be imaginative for a second and remove party politics, the argument then goes to what is best for Norwich. What structures, if any, would suit. In this case I do believe that the status quo was not seen as a structure which will deliver the optimum for Norwich.
I agree with your point that party politics plays a role - like for example the Conservatives criticizing everything Norwich City Council does - (because it has a Labour executive). In this case you are conflating the issue of unitary with Labour partisan politics. I agree we cannot rule it out entirely but I try and look at the bigger picture and believe a new Unitary Norwich on existing boundaries is better, more democratic and will deliver savings long term.

Anonymous said...

I am not invloved in the squabbling of parties or councils. I am simply a resident of Norwich and an undecided voter. To me all this opposition sounds a bit desperate to cling on to power.

Regardless of the cost, Norwich should be made a unitary. The city is in a sorry state. Those elected people at the County Council fail to represent and advocate the people of this wonderful city. Thankfully they do not represent the ideology or sensibilities of the people of Norwich (otherwise I would move) but that does mean that services and priorities are also not representative.

Unitary status will finally allow the people to be truly represented and reflected rather than being ruled by the outdated and stale.

Hurrah to that.

EGL Resident said...

I am sorry, Anon, but if you believe that regardless of the cost this failing zero-star Labour City Hall can run things between than the 3 star Conservative County Hall then that is a quite bizarre stance to take. Certaintly I, my neighbours, colleagues and friends would disagree strongly.

And yes this is another arguement based upon not liking the current county council rather than the rights or wrongs of UNITARY government.

Please everyone, stick to the script.

Anonymous said...

My arguement was not about the councils. I agree that the County Council is better than the City Council.

However, the change would create two new organisations anyway. So their respective star ratings are irrelevant. In fact you could argue that this is the best hope for improving City Hall (by some of the 3 star County Hall staff joining the ranks).

Unitary is the right thing to do regardless of cost owing to democracy. It means better democracy (decisions will be made by the political and ideological make up of Norwich) but also better services (e.g. housing and social care being delivered by the same body).

Scare mongering about the current councils is wrong and is based on party politics. I want the people I can elect to represent me. Currently those representing my area have no say in the issues I care about in my area and beyond... bizarrly that falls to people living in the villages of Norfolk.

Anonymous said...

My point is Norfolk CC can afford to be a 3* council. It takes the Lion share of my council tax bill. Norwich CC is left with the crumbs.

No wonder.

Roll on Unitary!

Frankly someone elected in Oxborough making multi pound decisions over Norwich's waste; and can't be democratically removed by local Norwich voters, or hold council meetings at 10.30am, when the rest of working Norwich can't attend; is a symptom of the current democractic deficit problem.