Councillor calls for big shake-up of Lincolnshire’s political system
Lincolnshire’s political structure should be ripped up and a new unitarian authority introduced in a shake-up that would save millions of pounds.
That is the opinion of County Councillor Colin Mair who will be contesting the Louth and Horncastle seat for UKIP in May’s General Election.
Coun Mair, the UKIP leader at County Hall, says there is no need for county AND district councils.
He believes a new single body could represent county-wide interests much better with town or parish councils handed more power for local matters.
He said one authority would end confusion voters have expressed about which council is responsible for specific issues, including planning and parking enforcement.
Coun Mair described the current system as ‘too bureaucratic’ and said many people did not know who their councillor is - or what they do.
He said millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money was being wasted.
His views come as the controlling Conservative group at the County Council called for the number of councillors to be cut.
Coun Mair, who represents the Tattershall Castle ward, said he backed the Tory idea but said the proposal did not go far enough.
He admitted he could effectively be ‘out of a job’ if the number of councillors is reduced but said improving the current system was more important.
Coun Mair said: “The whole thing needs shaking up. Why do we need county and district councils?
“We have 77 county councillors in Lincolnshire - and 300 district councillors.
“The districts, largely speaking, don’t work with each other and the same is true of the county and the districts.
“Looking at East Lindsey alone, there are 160 parish councils.
“That’s bureaucracy gone mad, No wonder people are confused about who is responsible for what and why it takes an age to get anything done.
“When I said in a recent debate that I supported reducing the number of county councillors, a Labour councillor shouted at me that I could be doing myself out of a job.
“He said what would I do if my ward disappeared.
“I told him I’d fight his seat.”
Coun Mair said he’d had personal experience of how the current system did not work and questioned the role of MPs in the process.
He added: “I had a problem with a planning issue when I first moved to Lincolnshire and ended up going to Sir Peter Tapsell.
“He said he was sorry but he had no influence over the District Council.
“What is the point of having elected representatives if they can’t do nothing?
“I have recently been to parish council meetings where they expressed despair at the fact that the district council ignores their decisions, as does the county council.
“They (county and district councils) seem to spend most of their time arguing about exactly who is responsible for certain issues.”
“People are fed up. We need a shake-up.”
Coun Mair claimed the majority of people - and town and parish councillors - told him their opinion did not count when it came to key planning decisions.
He added: “These people know their areas better than anyone.
“Yet what do we get? A system whereby people from outside that area make a decision.
“How can these people make a decision when often they never even visit the place where a development is taking place?
“If we are all for localism, let’s give local people the chance to make decisions that really affect their lives.”
Coun Mair said refuse disposal also highlighted the current complicated status.
He revealed: “At the moment, it seems each district council is responsible for collecting waste and the county council also has some responsibilities in that areas as well.
“How does all this make sense? It’s a waste of money and time.
“I read in the Horncastle News last week that the county and district council have spent years arguing about who is responsible for paving stones in the Market Place.
“The result? Nothing has been done.
“Every single community in the county would have at least one similar story. Why not have one authority with more power going to local councils?
“Think of the time and money we’d save.”