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Sunday, 13 March 2011

Cutting down to size

Dr Gordon Taylor, chairman of the West London Residents Association whose membership runs into many thousands and whose lobbying was instrumental in persuading Boris Johnson to get rid of that pestilence-the Western Extension wrote a highly reasoned letter to Sir Cockle illuminating the benefits of reducing the number of Borough councillors as a cost and efficiency measure. Dr Taylor also reminded Sir Cockle that overpaying Town Clerks flew in the face of the Pickles's nostrums on greed and waste in local government.

The Dame has seen the letter and agrees with everything the Doc says. But then only a blinkered fool would not; after all not only was Taylor a highly experienced and successful businessman but consulted by many senior politicians keen to have his thoughts-not least the Mayor of London.
So what was the response to his letter? 

Well, Sir Cockle obviously decided to let dear old Barbadian born "Dotty" Weatherhead answer on his behalf (and we reproduce below.)" Dotty" as you may know is a councillor who has been a member for well over 70 years and had this to say about local residents

"They wander about with "e-things (sic) stuck in their ears listening to music which is still encroaching on other people or listening or gabbling into a stupid mobile phone...."

Still desperate to convince us that she was not quite on our planet she launched into cyclists (you know, the people Boris is so keen to encourage). ......"and these days with all the twits on bicycles...."

I think we can get the measure of this councillor, can we not? Her short, rude and thoroughly irrelevant response to a perfectly reasoned suggestion from one of the Royal Borough's most highly respected of Resident Association chairman, amply justifies his case for forcibly retiring elderly councillors, long past their sell by date.

We hear that when "Dotty" was asked if she ever held 'surgeries' she got terribly confused and responded, "No, but then why would I? I am not a doctor' !

Anyway here is Taylor's letter to Sir C with Very Dotty's response

Dear Merrick,

No doubt you will have followed with interest the intention of some councils to cut costs by reducing the number of councillors in their authority.

The Local Government News reports that Bucks County council has been given the go-ahead to reduce its councillors by over 10%. Telford and Wrekin Council is to consult residents on its plan to cut the number of its councillors by 25% to save money.

On behalf of our Association may I suggest that the Royal Borough follows this cost cutting route and consults with a view to reducing the number of councillors per ward from 3 to 2. This would reduce the number of councillors from the present 54 to 36. ie a 33.3% reduction.

The present number of 3 councillors per ward is probably related to the time when a third of the council was up for re-election each year. This no longer applies when the whole council is re-elected every 4 years.

The Cabinet system of governance which has replaced the previous Committee style arrangement also appears to require fewer councillors for its effective operation. With the cost of all the RBKC councillors compensation being estimated at £1.2M for the last municipal year ending in April 2010 there is clearly scope to make considerable financial savings by reducing councillor numbers.

You may also have noted that the Chief Executive of Cornwall Council has taken a voluntary pay cut of 5% from £200,000 to £190,000 pa as part of his Council's drive to cut costs. A better than this gesture from RBKC's Chief Executive would be appreciated by borough residents.

Yours sincerely
Dr Gordon Taylor
Chairman West London Residents Association

and here is the rather dotty response...

Dear Gordon

As usual, you never get everything right, but then your short service as an elected member was on that strange body which thank heavens Lady Thatcher abolished. I have only been around since 1962 (St. Charles Ward 6 of us beaten by about 1,400 votes). 

Elections then were every 3 years, the WHOLE Council apart from the 10 ALDERMEN & 60 Councillors. I have found no evidence of rolling elections in London. This changed in 1974 when all Wards in K & C went to 3 members. If Merrick took up your suggestion someone (who is retired with lots of spare time) would have to spend their whole time replying to you, with little spare time to do real Council work.


1 comment:

  1. This is quite extrordinary! The Chairman of the biggest Resident Association in West London writes to a democratic Leader and gets brushed aside and trivialised by a councillor who for many years has been the laughing stock of fellow councillors. And this councillor claims to speak on behalf of Cllr Cockell.

    It is another example of the out of touch and contemptuous Leadership in Hornton Street

    Conservative councillors must get shot of this man


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