7:57am Thu Jan 12, 2017
WE ARE less than two weeks into 2017, but fears have already been expressed that it could be as long as two years before the sorry saga of Newark’s Robin Hood Hotel reaches a conclusion.
System has had its day
8:21am Thu Jan 05, 2017

Reflecting on last month’s Sleaford and North Hykeham by-election, one can only wonder, with a 37% turn-out, why 63% of the electorate failed to vote.

Is it possible they felt disillusioned with our present system of democracy, no longer trusted MPs to listen to them, or felt disenfranchised by government and political systems?

Our present political system is largely a two-party adversarial one that dates back to around 1688 and the Whigs and Tories.

The Tories believed it was their right to govern under a paternalistic system, while the Whigs saw that lawful government was based on the consent of the governed and that they could be brought to account, which was not only lawful, but imperative.

In the 21st Century, surely an adversarial centralised government is no longer fit-for purpose, and is not only dysfunctional but squanders taxpayers’ money as successive parties dominate, changing policies that serve dogma rather than national and public interests.

A prime example is that because of loopholes in legislation individuals and corporations either do not pay the correct taxes or can evade them.

Paying the correct tax is surely the duty of all citizens, regardless of status.

If that was done then public services such as education, the NHS and care services could be properly funded, even though there are too many layers of management and too much bureaucracy, together with government targets that fail to take into account local infrastructure and resources.

The government appears to claim that councils are to blame for the crisis in social care, when it is government policies, together with financial cuts, that are leading to inefficiencies in all our essential public services.

I suspect many people believe local public services should be run and financed locally and, given that we have devolution in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, it would make sense to devolve powers to the eight English regions through a regional assembly.

In order to ensure equity, the basis of local government would be through metropolitan and unitary authorities, some of which already exist.

That would do away with county and district councils, with all services coming under one authority.

The lowest level of governance would remain, but with parish councils becoming community councils and both rural and urban areas in order to advise on matters of local concern.

With revisions to the House of Lords as well, regional assembles would provide elected members to a much-reduced central government, while providing and overseeing areas such as transport, health, housing and education, and basic services such as water, electricity and gas throughout the region.

All other public services would be devolved to the metropolitan or unitary authorities within their boundary.

A level playing field would, I feel, provide public services that would be more efficient and better managed than the historic system in place today.

­— A. M. WADDINGTON, Viking Way, Metheringham.

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