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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

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We need change as a country and as a county

Last week saw the Liberal Democrats finally spit out their dummies and vote against the proposed boundary changes. And so, the idea of reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600 ends – at least for the foreseeable future.

John Stevenson  photo
John Stevenson

We are now left with 650 MPs, even though it was part of the both the Liberal Democrat and Conservative manifestos to reduce the number. This is alongside soon having more than 1000 members of the Lords – completely unsustainable!

The Liberal Democrats gave no good reasons why they decided to vote against the proposals. In fact, there was a clear agreement at the outset of the Coalition for a reduction in the number of constituencies, and for to be of more equal size.

In return for this, the Liberal Democrats held a referendum on a change in the voting system – something subsequently rejected by the electorate. The Liberal Democrats have now completely gone back on their word.

So, where does this leave us? With too many politicians, and a heavy dose of cynicism toward the political process – neither of which are good for our democracy.

Turning to matters Cumbrian, not only do we have too many councillors – 400 for only half a million people – but we also have too many councils!

I have long advocated a change to Cumbria’s current council structure, but events over the nuclear repository in west Cumbria may finally start to concentrate minds. The time for radical change in the structure of local government in Cumbria could well be approaching.

Whatever your views on the issue of a nuclear repository, the fact that three different councils were involved in the decision seems ludicrous.

The business community certainly feel there is constant conflict between councils resulting in a complete lack of leadership and vision for our county. This is a potentially serious issue because if businesses lose confidence in Cumbria, they will soon look to invest their money in more appealing locations that benefit from strong local leadership.

The other main weakness is a lack of competing visions and plans for the future of our county. At the upcoming county council elections the electorate will pass judgement on the performance of the council over the last four years and choose the people and the party they would like to see run Cumbria for the next four years.

For the last four years, we have had a Conservative/Labour coalition.

It is absolutely vital that both parties declare their intentions for the future. Personally I think it is in the interests of Cumbria and political scrutiny that both parties declare that they will not enter into another grand coalition.

They should declare that they will govern alone or with a different relationship. This would strengthen scrutiny and ensure the voters get a real choice at the election.

We need fewer Lords, fewer councils, fewer MPs and fewer councillors.

We are at a crossroads. We need change as a country and as a county to ensure that the political process is fairer, simpler, and less cynical than it is currently.

By John Stevenson MP
Published: February 4, 2013

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It doesn't matter how many councils we have if those council's don't represent the peoples views in their decision making. Left to themselves Copeland and Allerdale would have gone forward to the next stage inspite of there being a clear magority against the proposal .ie %85 of parish councils voted no!,Thank goodness there was a system in play, quite rightly that allowed CCC to have the final say.

Posted by James archbold on 2 March 2013 at 13:43

Would Mr Stephenson give up his seat for fewer MP's!!!??

Posted by Andrew on 7 February 2013 at 15:31

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