Letter: Town hall cabals

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The Independent Culture
Letter: Town hall cabals

Sir: In publicising the threat to democracy from Labour's town hall "reforms" (letter, 5 March) Councillor Margaret Little has done your readers a great service. Does the Government really think the Westminster system - secretive, confrontational and antiquated - has been such a huge success that "cabinets" should be foisted on councils throughout the land?

My own authority recently tried out the new ideas in a day-long role- play arranged by the Local Government Management Board. It swiftly became apparent that our seven-strong "cabinet" (drawn from all three political parties) was seriously overloaded: scrutinising the cabinet's operations effectively was difficult or impossible, and back-bench councillors were set to become as marginalised as their hapless counterparts at Westminster.

The result of these changes is likely to be a further exodus of capable people from local government. All parties find it hard to recruit candidates to serve as councillors at the moment, and the new system will worsen the problem. If power is to be monopolised by cabals of officials and senior councillors, the rest will have little incentive to serve as lobby- fodder (unpaid) and may seek other ways of serving the community.

Councillor ALAN HAYMAN

Chairman, Public Protection Committee

Colchester Borough Council

Colchester, Essex

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