Monday, 6 December 2010

Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy Moment

Remember that bit at the beginning of H2G2 when the planning officer is explaining to Arthur Dent where the planning notice for the demolition of his house was displayed? I think NCC has just done something similar.

NCC is to hold an extraordinary meeting to decide which new form of 'executive governance' the council is to take next year.

Under provisions contained in an Act of Parliament from 2007 all councils have to adopt a new form of government, choosing from two options, the 'elected mayor' or 'strong leader and cabinet' models. They are not allowed to keep the status quo.

As JoCo is on record as being against elected mayors it's no surprise that he has 'recommended' that NCC adopts the strong leader and cabinet option. This is similar to the current arrangements except that the leader is elected for a four year term. Clearly he isn't confident of getting the whole city to vote for him.

They could have held a referendum to decide but they decided that we weren't interested. However you may be surprised to hear that they did hold a consultation exercise on the matter. This lasted for barely three weeks and the consultation document was posted at Loxley House and in the 'council government and democracy' pages on the website. Not much more 'public' than the planning department in Douglas Adam's finest.

As the only people who actually go into Loxley house are the people that work there and I'm probably the only person who ever reads that section of the website it's not surprising that nobody responded to the consultation. Not one. The pathetically short consultation period can't have helped. Despite this Information Governance still managed to be out of time in its response to a FoIA request on the matter.

I didn't respond myself for the simple reason that I honestly couldn't decide on which was the least worst of the two scenarios. However I actually do think that the report makes a fair point in that the recommended option causes least disruption and change which, considering it could all be upended by the forthcoming Localism Bill, seems sensible.

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