Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Accountability of town and parish councils

I discovered something disturbing about our local governance arrangements. I should have known, but I didn't and it surprised me. We can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman about the behaviour of a whole range of public authorities including fire and rescue authorities, national park authorities and a host of other public bodies whose decisions affect our lives.

You would think that you could complain to the local government ombudsman about the behaviour of all local councils. But you would be wrong. The ombudsman does not consider complaints about town or parish councils. So, should we be concerned? I think we should.

Town and Parish councils will soon be able to take a range of decisions that affect our lives - arguably they can already take such decisions. But they are soon to get a larger role in planning. It is all part of the governments 'localism' agenda. But woe betide you if you think decisions of your town or parish council have been taken inappropriately. You have no clear body of accountability to refer it to.

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