In a fairly recent blog I asked what were Community Councils for? Now I am asking what are County Councillors for? More precisely what are those County Councillors who are not members of Cabinet, Executive or Board for?
Of the 73 members of Powys County Council there are 15 Board members and therefore 58 non-Board members. Decision-making is vested in the 15 Board members with the other 58 being specifically excluded from almost all council decisions.
The council's role as a Planning Authority has over recent years been significantly altered to exclude the ordinary council members from over 90% of planning decisions, these having been delegated to the planning officers. Moreover, even the big strategic applications are unlikely to be considered by either Area or County Planning Committees of the local authority, those decision-making powers being reserved for government ministers.
Now the ultimate insult, hidden away in the Webb Review entitled "Promise and Performance" published last month is a recommendation that the governing bodies of both schools and further education institutions (FEIs) should not contain any Local Authority members which effectively removes the elected member from any direct involvement in the governance and running of state schools in their communities or wards.
In future, if the recommendations of the Webb review are accepted by WAG, schools and FEIs will be responsible to a regional consortium of 'professionals' with appropriate skills and with any notion of local democratic accountability specifically excluded. This is but ons step away from direct control of schools by the Welsh Assembly and clearly obviates the need for the Local Educati on Authority. Wherever you live in Wales, your schools will be directly run from Cardiff Bay. Expect further developments later this month when WAG publishes its Skills and Employment Strategy, and get ready for the new era in which all notions of local democratic accountability for education provision will be swept away.