Letter: Lack of democratic accountability in the 'sleazy state'

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The Independent Online
Sir: May I congratulate the Independent for its exposure of the real problem of sleaze in Britain today: not what cabinet ministers get up to in bed, but the transfer of power from publicly accountable bodies to quangos made up largely of government placemen and women. But quite why it has taken this long is a mystery, and perhaps an indictment of a London-based media which these developments seem to have passed by.

As a reporter on local newspapers and local radio in Devon in the Eighties, I was appalled by what was happening to the committees that kept an eye on a whole range of public services and utilities and, hence, a great deal of our money.

Health, water, gas, electricity and even education are all areas where - privatised or not - regulatory bodies became less and less accountable to and representative of the local community. Fewer and fewer meetings were open to the press and public. Any remaining members who asked awkward questions were removed. Those who replaced them rarely exhibited much expert knowledge or interest. Motions put by the renamed 'chief executives' went through on the nod, and the nodding members picked up their cheques.

Yours faithfully,

PETER BRADSHAW

London, W10

17 March

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