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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

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Vote as one for something better

Anyone voting next week? Come on! Don’t be shy! A third of the seats on Carlisle City council are up for grabs.

This at a time when turnout for voting in local elections is at an all-time low and when councils across the country are under pressure to make even more cuts and save yet more money.

The key is to ensure there is no reduction in the efficiency or quality of the services provided. If staff numbers have to be reduced, they should come from office posts and middle-management.

Which is what is happening at Copeland council.

The director of resources and transformation and the director for people and places are being made one (ideas for new meaningless title should be emailed to Copeland) saving the authority £90,000 in pay and pensions.

I’ve written before to say that Cumbria’s councils missed a huge chance to make massive savings, to simplify and improve services by not grabbing the chance to become a unitary authority.

That opportunity came five years ago. and it was predicted it would save just over £22m a year.

But the district councils – Carlisle, Allerdale, Eden, Copeland, Barrow and South Lakeland – and Cumbria’s six MPs opposed the change and the Government rejected the scheme.

Ever since, our district authorities have spent time and money trying to merge their own departments and share resources with other councils.

Either way, the county needs a more straightforward and cost-effective system of government – one that might even encourage ratepayers to get more involved with its workings and to vote in elections.

But it will take more than merging titles such as resources and transformation and people and places (which sound like TV property shows) to ensure our local councils remain valid, viable and capable of providing the services we need.

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Should we have much stiffer penalties for pet owners who don't clean up after their dogs?

Yes, it's disgusting and fines should be increased

No, the penalties are okay as they are - and why don't cat owners get fined too?

Yes but councils should use the money to provide many more bins for owners to put their dog's mess

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