Posted tagged ‘elected representatives’

Defending democracy

October 5, 2011

Not a plastic advisor in sight

Local Authorities are not particularly democratic, at least in the way they are run.

A local authority is a very complex organisation. In order to provide the required governance of this complex beast into the hands of the demos we elect councillors to monitor and manage the activities of the council. This would be a tricky job were these representatives fully qualified in running a local authority, or very knowledgeable in the areas they are in charge of, and had full time responsibility for the activities of it.

It becomes very difficult indeed when the councillors are part time representatives with limited time to get under the skin of issues, few meetings to really analyse council policies and a whole range of other responsibilities not attached to running the local authority as such. Add to that a mass of regulation from central Government and it is very hard to say for certain that the actions of the local authority represent the will of the demos.

So when I say that local authorities are not particularly democratic I mean it in the above sense.

Obviously, the issues detailed above are numerous and multi-faceted. They also only just scrape the tip of the iceberg of the local democratic deficit.

However, for the rest of this post I want to look at only one aspect of a councillor’s democratic duty: their role in understanding, scrutinising and setting direction for the activities of the council.