Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Standards Board (again)

One omission from an excellent post by Bob Piper:

The Standards Board are the tip of the iceberg here. They are the APEX organisation for an army of local officials who are financed - out of public money - to supress the debate of local issues. Rather than restate this, I'll link to an earlier post a previous post rather than repetition here).

Permanent officialdom now has more power than ever before to silence elected officials and professionals. This (for the avoidance of doubt) is a bad thing.

And they aren't just spending public money in surpressing Councillors either (again, a link to a previous post rather than repetition here).


Skuds said...

Do you object to the existance of the standards board, its remit or the way it carries on? Or all three?

My own view is that there are some aspects of behaviour of our representatives which need to be regulated or kept in check, like not declaring material interests, and gross misbehaviour when they are acting officially.

I also think that some of these matters need to be dealt with impartially by an independent body rather than by their own council with all its political loyalties, old scores, etc. in some cases.

Having said that, the standards board which is supposed to do all that, has not really done any good.

For a start the system got clogged up with petty grievances and point-scoring - especially from parish councils.

A lot of what gets referred is trivial and should be eliminated quicker.

At the same time cases which are serious, or might be, take a year or more to be decided. If it turns out to be nothing someone has had it hanging over their heads for all that time.

After all that, when the board finds that somebody did so something seriously wrong they seem to get a slap on the wrist, or the matter is turned back to the partisan local authority for a slap on the wrist.

I think the whole thing needs to be reformed but not scrapped: when courts keep giving the 'wrong' verdicts or sentences we don't ask for the legal system to be scrapped but for it to be changed.

Stop chasing the petty issues where someone says a wrong word, and concentrate on the signs of potential corruption and other more serious matters, and have some proper punishments available in those cases.

Paulie said...


Surely, if Councillors act illegally, they can go to prison like everyone else?

The parallel with the courts doesn't work for me either. I wouldn't have set the Standards Board up in the first place.

If the public aren't aware of what Councillors do, and if the press don't report it, this is a bigger problem.

The Standards Board is sticking plaster to cover a bigger issue: Central government is not prepared to repatriate powers to local government.

I'd argue that everything else follows from that.

Skuds said...

I'm not sure that I like the idea of incorporating councils' codes of standards into law and then clogging up the courts with the sort of petulance that the standards board is clogged up with.

Removing parish councils from the system (or removing parish councils full stop) would go a long way to help.

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