Letter: Judge councillors on their own performance

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The Independent Online
Sir: On 4 May, throughout England and Wales, there will be more than 13,000 councillors defending their seats in 346 local elections. Representing the three mainstream parties, as well as independent and local parties, they make up the vast army of local councillors working in and for the community.

Those standing as Conservatives, or for Labour or the Liberal Democrats, have become accustomed to being judged on the performance of their national leaders. Even those who have given a lifetime of service to the community see this counting for nought, compared with the short-term popularity or unpopularity of their party.

While local Labour parties seek to exploit national issues and the current unpopularity of the Government, Conservatives concentrate on local issues where Labour is mostly in power. Those who are out campaigning on the doorstep will confirm that, while concern is expressed about the Conservative government, you won't find any support for the local Labour council.

I am only one small voice in the grassroots of the Conservative Party, expressing serious concern that the threat to local democracy as we know it has nothing whatsoever to do with government grant but everything to do with local elections which are a farce, where incompetent and wasteful councils simply hide behind the national headlines expressed strongly and with powerful influence in the press and on TV and radio.

Governments are elected for a five-year term and should be judged at the end of that term. Councillors in many authorities are judged annually. They are surely entitled to be judged on their own record and performance. There is huge pent up frustration and anger up and down Britain, this year in the Conservative Party, three years ago in the Labour Party.

Yours faithfully,

BERNARD ZISSMAN

Conservative Group Leader

Birmingham City Council

Birmingham

11 April

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