This should make res­i­dents ner­vous

The Wokingham Paper - - VIEWPOINTS -

Wok­ing­ham Bor­ough Coun­cil (WBC) is now des­per­ate to ap­point its fifth Ex­ec­u­tive Mem­ber for Fi­nance in 19 months.

Seven weeks ago, the Ex­ec­u­tive Mem­ber re­signed his post. Six weeks ago, the Con­ser­va­tive Leader of the Coun­cil (who is cur­rently dou­bling up as the Ex­ec­u­tive Mem­ber for Fi­nance) promised to an­nounce a re­place­ment within two weeks, but as of 27th Oc­to­ber noth­ing has been an­nounced.

It seems the Leader has run out of Con­ser­va­tive back­benchers pre­pared to stick their neck out for this one.

If this makes res­i­dents ner­vous, it should, since WBC is now head­ing for a £600m debt (£9,500 per house­hold) and there are an in­creas­ing num­ber of ques­tions that need to be an­swered.

The cur­rent Ex­ec­u­tive Mem­ber sys­tem al­lows for the Con­ser­va­tive back­benchers to re­lax as they can sim­ply rely upon the hand­ful of Con­ser­va­tive Ex­ec­u­tive Mem­bers.

This means there are too few eyes, at too late a stage, in­volved in de­vel­op­ing poli­cies re­sult­ing in many of th­ese be­ing of poor qual­ity and ef­fect. Is it any won­der few rul­ing party back­benchers are will­ing to step up with this re­spon­si­bil­ity laid on them?

There is a dif­fer­ent way to the Ex­ec­u­tive sys­tem (which is per­sis­tently sup­ported by many Con­ser­va­tive Mem­bers), one that in­volves all Bor­ough Coun­cil­lors hav­ing eyes on de­vel­op­ing poli­cies from in­cep­tion and which would pro­vide a bet­ter ser­vice for res­i­dents.

This also ap­plies to de­vel­op­ing the an­nual bud­get where much greater open­ness is needed, rather than the ob­ses­sive se­crecy ap­proach adopted by the Con­ser­va­tive rul­ing party. The next bud­get plan­ning round is about to com­mence, will they adopt a dif­fer­ent ap­proach? Cllr Ian Pi ock Lib­eral Demo­crat coun­cil­lor for Fin­champ­stead South, Wok­ing­ham Bor­ough Coun­cil

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