Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Northamptonshire - we're in an awful mess, and we don't mean maybe...

As a weekly columnist for a Northamptonshire newspaper, the situation at the County Council should be the gift that just keeps on giving.

Every week I could write about the latest twists, turns and resignations, point the finger of blame, tut and shake my head - but what good would it do?  It would just depress you and me even further.

We all know we're in an awful mess and we don't mean maybe (Madonna, 'Papa Don't Preach'), so instead I'd like to ask what are we going to do about it?

Come on, we're sensible people, one of us must have an idea?

No, sorry, me neither - that's surely why we elect, pay and trust these people to make these big decisions for us.  To look after our elderly and vulnerable, educate our children, provide decent public transport, fix potholes etc.

I read that a unitary authority is being touted as a possible solution to the county's current woes.

But then I heard a district councillor say that this isn't a 'silver bullet' solution.  I had to look this up because I thought silver bullets were used to kill vampires, but it turns out it's werewolves, and it's a term for a miraculous fix, like the waving of a magic wand.

The idea of a unitary authority seems sensible, on the face of it.  Instead of two layers of local government - County Council and District or Borough Councils - we would just have the one, responsible for everything. 

So, in theory, no more passing the buck and council staff saying 'that's County's fault' or 'that's your local council's responsibility'.

But what we desperately need now though is somebody to please tell us truthfully, honestly and without any personal agenda of any kind, what the pros and cons are of such an arrangement.

This county can't afford any more costly mistakes.  If there's going to be a big change, it is essential that it is the right one, and one that benefits the ordinary people of Northamptonshire.

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