The resources committee of the parish council met last week to agree a response to the local government review which is being carried out by Ashford Borough Council and which has a deadline of May 29.

The review was mainly about parish boundaries and the number of representatives for each parish, and we decided that on these issues we would recommend no change. i.e. the boundary of Wye with Hinxhill should remain the same, and that we should continue with 11 parish councillors. 150529CommunityGovernanceReview

While I was supportive of the submission, I was nevertheless surprised that we couldn’t identify anything that needed changing. Local government after all doesn’t appear to be particularly accountable or effective at the moment. In Ashford there were only elections in a handful (7?) for the 38 parish councils. Wye continues to have 3 vacancies on its council. Despite localism, most people seem disinterested in what their local representatives get up to. In fact most people are probably unaware as to who they even are.

Maybe that is the root of the problem. No biographical information is distributed during the election period. There is no media interest. Parish councillors are merely listed by name on the ballot paper.

Who are we? And, quite frankly, why should anyone care?

Might it not be a good idea for people standing for parish or borough elections to be required to distribute a three line biography prior to the poll? Just factual biographical information – nothing that might be construed as political you understand. At the very least might it not be a good idea to for the ages of representatives to be listed, their professions and the streets in which they live? Perhaps such simple information could actually be put on the ballot paper itself?

I suspect that such a change would need sanction by organisations of greater power and august influence than Ashford Borough Council. Which is why we didn’t include anything like this on our review submission. And we don’t really know who we’re submitting the review to of course. We are all stuck in an anonymous loop – full of nametags and bits of paper and pretty little else.


About jasperbouverie

I am Jasper Bouverie. I have two blogs: jasperbouverie.com which is about promoting sustainability in the village of Wye in Kent (and beyond); and FunderFilms.com which I will fill with short films dedicated to promoting social and environmental awareness and change. Find me on Twitter: funderfilms and finelinej
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  1. ann@sutherlands.clara.co.uk says:

    Careful Jasper, you could be accused of being negative! By way of helpfulness may I humbly suggest that photographs of the Parish Councillors and who they are go up on the PC website. After all many of us know each other having lived here a long time but there are those who would have no idea, To put a face to a name might make the PC more user friendly.
    You are right about elections. When Peter was elected the Council put together a Black and White door to door leaflet with a photograph of each candidate, their name and a bit of blurb about them together with their aspirations for our village. We still laugh as Peter looked like a convict on his!
    It is difficult to vote for a perfect stranger that you know nothing about. They may be an ex Imperial
    employee keen on development!
    To be fair, the big Wye issue takes up all your time and leaves little for such projects. I do hope you have found this positive!

    • thanks Ann. I hope I am not being accused of being negative! To me the purpose of a review is to flag up possible areas of improvement. It wouldn’t be much of a review if everyone just said ‘everything’s fine’. And I don’t think that anyone would say that ‘everything’s fine’ with regard to democracy at the moment.
      I agree regarding the photos and the election blurb.. but I think that could be made a statutory requirement rather than something which is just dreamt up as a good idea by a bunch of councillors in Wye. I’d be quite interested to know who the councillors are in our neighbouring parishes for example.. no idea about them!

      • ann@sutherlands.clara.co.uk says:

        I was being flippant about being negative. It seems to me these days if you raise a subject for debate you are accused of being negative to shut you up. I agree re your thoughts on election blurb. a statutory requirement would be the answer.

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