De­vo­lu­tion at any level must be open

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION -

WHEN the ques­tion of de­volv­ing pow­ers to the other na­tions of the union was first mooted, warn­ings were given as to its po­ten­tial con­se­quences – not just the is­sue of their MPs vot­ing on is­sues only af­fect­ing Eng­land but the na­ture of de­val­u­a­tion it­self.

The ‘Bet­ter To­gether’ cam­paign may have saved Scot­land break­ing away but by award­ing seats with more pow­ers it has the po­ten­tial to split the union by de­fault!

Once you start di­vid­ing pow­ers to the re­gions and ci­ties, where does it end? Rather than strength­en­ing the Union it will weaken it, as each will de­mand more and more, weak­en­ing the cen­tre.

Since de­vo­lu­tion, the har­mony that once ex­isted be­tween the na­tions has been rarely tested. There is less unity than there was. There can

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never be par­i­ties be­cause the na­tions have very dif­fer­ent eco­nomic needs. Eng­land will al­ways be the pow­er­house di­vid­ing the rest of the Union.

I have no is­sue with a fed­eral style of gov­ern­ment but, as a demo­crat, it has to be put to the peo­ple, many of whom will op­pose such a move.

Most of us will agree on the need for lo­cal coun­cils to be al­lowed con­trol over lo­cal is­sues and for the cen­tral gov­ern­ment to in­ter­fere less. It is un­fair when lo­cal res­i­dents op­pose a scheme and for it to go ahead over the heads of lo­cal peo­ple.

Coun­cils need to take greater no­tice of lo­cal feel­ings. All too of­ten we feel ig­nored that de­ci­sions are taken to the detri­ment of those liv­ing and work­ing in the dis­tricts.

Be­fore we em­power the re­gions we need to start closer to home. Coun­cils need to use so­cial me­dia as well as other forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion to en­gage pub­lic opin­ion, es­pe­cially among the youth.

Lo­cal pol­i­tics can seem bor­ing but de­ci­sions taken at the lo­cal level af­fects us all. Not all of us have time to de­bate at coun­cil meet­ings or have the in­cli­na­tion to stand for elec­tions, but we have a voice and should be en­cour­aged to use it in ex­press­ing an opin­ion.

If steps are not taken, the dis­con­nect be­tween the pub­lic and politi­cians at all lev­els will only widen, threat­en­ing our very democ­racy. Coun­cil­lors and mem­ber of var­i­ous as­sem­blies and par­lia­ment will be re­turned on ever de­creas­ing ma­jori­ties, mak­ing them even more un­rep­re­sen­ta­tive of those they claim to serve.

PETER THOMP­SON Tile­house Way



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