30/01/2012 Leave a comment
On Saturday I attended the Next Generation Leadership Centre Alumni event where those who have worked with Christina Dykes on a yearlong journey to better understand the role of Councillors as political leaders come back together to discuss the topics of the day and feed into national Politicians, on Saturday we were joined by Bob Neill MP and we had our usual lively debate.
There is a wonderful programme of training offered on every connectible subject for Councillors from the LGA but for all its strengths it is all entirely a-political in fact every session starts a bit like an AA meeting with the two basic rules ‘Chatham House’ and ‘we must not be political’ stated, chanted and agreed.
The great strength of the Leadership Centre for Local Government is precisely that it is different it’s training is entirely political delivered in three stream one Conservative and two other’s; one something to do with how best to sit on the fence and the other focussing on spending all the money in the good time and saying nothing to do with us gov’n now that it’s all gone wrong.
On Saturday amongst the many subjects we explored we discussed the almost unbelievable news that some Conservative controlled Councils are putting up their Council tax and not taking up the rebate offered by the Government. To my mind this is quite simply staggering; in these difficult times government has offered to help and we should take it up.
We all know that we cannot continue to offer 0% forever as each year this is in fact a cut after inflation; this year Suffolk’s 0% is more like a 3% cut.
In my own Council, officer talk about the business of the council and that 0% is unsustainable but we are not businesses we are Councils and our role as Councillors and politicians is to be demanding in the way we hold the Councils to account. As politicians we are here to represent our communities and my community tell me load and clear the best thing I can do to help them in these difficult time as they try to balance their household budgets is to keep Council tax down, this is also the number one fear of my older residents who struggle to live on their pension as it is.
I utterly reject the notion of putting up the Council tax this year and am extremely proud that Suffolk Conservatives are so demanding of the organisation that it is making savings; the majority of which are in the back office rather than hurt people in these difficult times by putting up Council tax.
There are many aspect of being a Councillor that have nothing o do with politics but I say there are just as many that are political and that defining what it means to be a Conservative, Liberal Democrat or Labour Councillor is just as important as learning community leadership, in fact I would say it was an integral part of community Leadership.
There are great rumblings as to what the future holds for the Leadership Centre, I for one hope it can flourish and deliver more training courses some long, some short, all focused on being political.