The decision whether or not to move to the next stage of hosting a nuclear repository in Cumbria was a controversial one.
I personally believed that the councils had nothing to lose in moving to the next stage, which was simply an exploratory stage, as they could have pulled out in the future had they wanted.
In the end, of course, Cumbria County Council decided not to move to the next stage. Every action has a consequence, and this decision is now being keenly felt.
Many business leaders are struggling to understand the rationale for the decision, confidence in the nuclear industry has taken a knock, and there is even a view that the prospect of a future nuclear build is now more doubtful; the consequences of which could have a profound impact on potential investment, especially investment in badly needed infrastructure improvements.
I suspect the decision will have a bearing for some time to come.
As for the political repercussions, they are more instant.
Cumbria County Councillor Tim Knowles (Labour) resigned from his role in cabinet, in my view with dignity. Eddie Martin, Cumbria County Council’s leader, is not seeking re-election and Stewart Young, deputy leader, has been called on to resign by one of his own party.
Maybe the time has come for fresh ideas and fresh leadership at the county level.
Talking of leadership, the saga of the North Cumbria trust’s merger continues. I believe that the sooner the merger with Northumbria is completed, the better it will be for everyone – patients and staff.
It does, however, raise issues of accountability and transparency within the Health Service.
North Cumbria Trust was not able to proceed to Foundation Trust status alone – who was accountable for that failing? Where was the transparency? How effective and open are our health boards?
Maybe we should be looking at the new police authority model for a solution – an elected Health Commissioner?
The person would be well known and decision making would be much more open and transparent. Most importantly there would be clear and accountable leadership.
I appreciate that enthusiasm and turnout for the first Police and Crime Commissioner election wasn’t as high as hoped but I believe the role’s profile will surely grow in time.
Look at the effect that Richard Rhodes is already having within Cumbria.
An elected Health Commissioner, as long as it replaced a level of bureaucracy instead of adding another one, would provide clear local leadership for a service that is vitally important to every one of us, but in which none of us has a say. An idea whose time may yet come!
Published: February 27, 2013
Have your say
Did you write this yourself John?
John Stevenson shows in his Blog he was/would have ignored the wishes of his electorate in the GDF/MRWS saga,Knowing there was no commitment from Government to withdraw in writing,.As for his call for Health Commissioner,shows where he stands on the NHS..I would hope Eddie Martin would reconsider,and carry on,thats the strong leadership Cumbria needs,not the yes,,man,,of J.S.
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