Friday 6 March 2009

Constraints of Democracy

Carmarthenshire County Council, like all elected authorities, sets its council tax in the full glare of public scrutiny. So there was a good debate last week during which the Labour/Independent members attempted to justify an above-inflation rise of 3.3%, whilst the opposition Plaid group put forward a reasoned case for a lower rise.

In the meantime, police authorities which do not face direct election for their membership set their own council tax precepts, often with much less attention. I understand that Dyfed Powys are looking for an increase of over 5%, for instance.

The furore over the increase in the neighbouring South Wales force has been somewhat exceptional, but has amounted to an argument about whether the increase should be 5% or 9.8%, with the Chief Constable threatening all sorts of repercussions if the authority don't do what she wants them to do.

But would either authority have been talking about an increase as high as 5% even, let alone 9.8%, if their members had to face the electorate directly and account for their actions? Somehow, I doubt it. It was almost certainly not her intention, but I suspect that the Chief Constable of South Wales Police has actually strengthened the argument for more democratic accountability.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I ask you!!
The 3% inflation figure set by CPI will I suspect be adjusted down by HM statistical office next month but has allowed Council to post these high prices. Local Govt in Wales is about job creation and not effeciancy. As for the Fuzz - well,sooner we get on to wage level set by each Force the better.What an absoulout shower.