Are they qualified?

Now that all of the local councils have been established for the next 4 years the various political parties are allocating their portfolio holders and cabinet members.  These posts cover a wide range of disciplines and the expenditure of huge amounts of public money.

Now if I’m right Councillors are elected for their politics and not their business acumen.  No one checks their commercial credentials or experience of running a business and their capability, let alone the capacity, for being responsible and accountable for such large portfolios.

If these elected Councillors were applying for a job in the senior echelons of Local Government, Senior Civil Service or Very Senior Manager grades in the NHS they would be subjected to a rigorous selection process that would include an assessment centre and a panel interview.  Instead we have a “secret” selection process behind closed doors where Councillors carve up the portfolio between them.

The net result of this is that there are, on a number of local councils, individual Councillors, who have never held a management position in their “day job”, suddenly being elevated to posts that they must struggle to cope with.  I wonder what the selection process is?  Is it allocated on the “ he who shouts loudest” criteria or is it a case of individuals saying, “I fancy that”.

What’s the problem with this I can hear people saying as surely they have professional and full time council officers to help and guide them who have been through the rigorous selection process and therefore possess the necessary experience.  Well maybe they do and the amount of input the officers will have will I guess depend on the strength of character the individual Councillor has, which is also not tested at the ballot box, to be able to take advice rather than direction.

The difference and the problem of course is that the less experienced Councillors are the more likely the council will be Officer led.  We certainly know of one council who fits that bill!  As power and decision making is devolved further down the line under the Big Society and Localism the qualifications and criteria for Councillors to hold such large portfolios will become even more important as will their capability to resist being led down a path that the local electorate would not want them to be led.  Sounds familiar!

Our message to local Councillors at BDC is do not fall into the trap of being officer led and stick to the principles that got you elected in the first place ie vote on what your electorate voted you in for and do not blindly tow the party line


  1. Great Blog. Lets see their credentials for running our District. Put up or shut up I say.

  2. I do not think that this sort of editorial does us any credit and we are simply antagonising the very people we are asking and hoping to change. I did not see anyone stand on the SNUB ticket at the election, more is the pity. If we were not prepared to stand and be counted - literally, then perhaps we shouold be more understanding of those that do. To say people have not held managerial posts etc - have we proof? Are we not being a little too arrogant and highhanded? Many of these Councillors are dedicated, get little pay and someone has to do it. I really think that if we continue bitching at these people then NOTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE and we are all wasting our time. I did not sign up to get involved in bitching, I thought we were going to oppose all this in a constructive way.

  3. This is getting pretty pathetic. Did anyone see the BBC programme last night about the people who tried to do without their council? One of the lessons to be learnt is that ordinary people cant hope to understand all the ins and outs of running a council. That is why Councillors need officers to advise them. Agreeing with that advice does not make it an officer led council! Please let's stick to the issue of concern.

  4. I could not agree more with the previous posts. Our Councillor is long serving, has always worked hard for the residents and with integrity. We do not always agree with the stance she takes but we recognise that she is there to represent us all, NOT just those who shout loudest. By and large she has managed to achieve that balance but often she has attracted criticism, who doesn't judging by these pages. However, we elected her to work for us all and if sometimes she gets it wrong, again who doesn't. I really resent the attack on her and other councilors. They do not get high pay like those Very Senior Managers you refer to. Those Managers are NOT elected – they go for the job for the HIGH pay. Councillors do it for a minimal amount and for the community and sometimes it is a thankless task, but we need them. We are constantly criticising them and saying how corrupt they and how we must get rid of them all at the election. What did we do about it? NOTHING! No one had the courage to stand because they know that being a councillor means dealing with ALL of the problems of the residents and they could not be bothered to do that. I should prefer in the future if you would recognise hard working councillors for everything else they do for us. I do not think you will though. It is much easier to throw mud, isn't it? I signed the petition but I did not think it would mean that my councillor would get this sort of disrespect.

  5. edith crowther17 May 2011 at 22:27

    The problem with Councillors and all of us, is that although we sense that much of our activity as a species is against the laws of Nature, we don't know that the United Nations has issued a few written laws backing up Nature. The motive of the UN is to try and prevent conflict and warfare over natural resources which have become scarce through damage or over-use.

    All countries which have signed the UN Conventions must translate the international laws into their national law. The EU has obeyed the UN to some extent, but each European nation now needs to play their part. The court case called Save Historic Newmarket v. Forest Heath District Council (which SNUBs lawyers have told us about) is a classic example of UK judges picking up UN law via EU law and shifting gear into UK law.

    In that case Judge Collins obligingly quotes Article 1 of the EU Directive which says: "The objective of the Directive is to provide for a high level of protection of the environment and to contribute to the integration of environmental considerations into the preparation and adoption of plans and programmes with a view to permitting sustainable development, by ensuring that, in accordance with the Directive, an environmental assessment is carried out of certain plans and programmes which are likely to have significant effects on the environment."

    The whole judgment is a very clear explanation of the EU law, which is extremely demanding. For instance, Paragraph 6 of Schedule 2 sets out a comprehensive list of the various significant effects which must be identified by any planning authority. It reads:-
    "The likely significant effects on the environment, including short, medium and long-term effects, permanent and temporary effects, positive and negative effects, and secondary, cumulative and synergistic effects, on issues such as-
    (a) Biodiversity;
    (b) population;
    (c) human health;
    (d) fauna;
    (e) flora;
    (f) soil;
    (g) water;
    (h) air;
    (i) climatic factors;
    (j) material assets;
    (k) cultural heritage, including architectural and archaeological heritage;
    (l) landscape; and
    (m) the inter-relationship between the issues referred to in sub-paragraphs (a) to (l)."

    Not only must all this be carefully identified, but it must be continuously updated at every stage of the planning process, even if the subject matter of the planning remains the same – developments can take months or years to implement, and meantime the environmental factors will have changed.

    The cost of all this to the Developer and the Council in both time and money is immeasurable, and that is why enforcing these great and universal Laws can be a formidable weapon in the right hands. The fact remains that nearly all Development in the year 2011 in the developed world breaks the law, and the quicker Developers and Councils and the rest of us realise this, the sooner we will be able to start undoing the damage already done in previous decades.

  6. SNUB went out of their way to field candidates I see. What a busted flush you all are. Might have got some sympathy if you'd been any good, but no, bunch of NIMBYs (who were behind Dussindale and Thorpe Marriott back in your time on the council, Mr Hastings). Cement mixer can't arrive soon enough.

  7. Rackheath resident18 May 2011 at 06:32

    All this blog is now. Is a exercise to bash BDC it's pathetic, Residents are not backing this kind of childish campaign, snub didn't watch "the street" the other night on BBC.

  8. Andy Radcliff (rackeath)18 May 2011 at 18:13

    Is Anonymous saying that Mr Hastings is responsible for Dusingdale ?
    I have many friends who live in Dusingdale estate and they love the place. I watched the place being built on.. guess what Farmland !!
    It was simply fascinating to drive about the road network that was installed before any of the houses were built.

  9. Yes, anonymous (me in this case) IS saying that David Hastings, now one of the loudest "Not In My Back Yard" letter writers and supporters of SNUB was, when he was leader of BDC, not particularly concerned about two huge developments on "precious farmland" that wasn't just at the end of his road...
    Mind you, I still find it fascinating to drive round Dustbidale's and Thorpe Marriot's road networks - there've been times I was worried I'd never get out again. Perhaps the EcoTown will learn from some of those mistakes...

  10. How "qualified" is Ben the Boy Wonder, champion of the SNUBbers? He's only just out of nappies.

  11. The more you read this lead article the more it sounds like sour grapes from SNUB. They did not stand at the election, they thought they could change the face of local politics in the District in the election and they did not and the number of seats is the same as before. Now they are grasping at straws by hitting out at hard working councillors and professional officers.Perhaps it is time for SNUB to put up and shutup if this is the only argument they can offer their supporters.

  12. Andy Radcliff (Rackheath)19 May 2011 at 07:54

    Where are all the 3000 Snub supporters gone......
    Seems like the only one is Edith whos backing the Snub Corner.
    I live in Rackheath - Yes on the New Estate and i was originaly a Snub supporter, they knocked on my door and explained there would be Imigrants and ex convicts out of prison living in the Eco Town development, I said no ! But finding this blog a few days ago, i have certainly changed my mind, i have talked to many other residents and they feel miss- informed by Snub as Snub is clearly a small campaign of a handfull of people who just want to cause trouble at Broadland Council. The same Council that empties our bins and looks after us. Sorry Snub you have lost mine and many other votes over you campaign.