From Letters in The Guardian, 12 Dec 2021.
Phillip Inman’s article on the dire state of local government finances sheds a light on what has been going on for decades, something I witnessed as a councillor on various authorities between 1987 and 2017 (“‘Councils have been short-changed. We need more government money’”, Business). Cllr Jayne Kirkham is pulling her punches when she opines that Cornwall has been “short-changed by the government”. In my opinion, local councils have been systematically emasculated by successive governments, at least since the end of the Second World War.
It is time to reform local government finance and structure in England before repatriating some of the powers it used to enjoy. The surviving remnants of the three-tier system in England (county, district, town/parish) need urgently to be replaced by unitary authorities, while retaining and strengthening the town/neighbourhood councils, which would bring English local government broadly in line with its counterparts in the other three UK nations. Council tax needs to be replaced by a local income tax and/or a land value tax. Just don’t give us any more local supremos, aka mayors or governors. Democracy is not safe if it rests in the hands of a single person, regardless of their mandate, as Boris Johnson proves to us every day.
John Marriott North Hykeham, Lincoln
The Guardian, 12 Dec 2021