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.