Friday, 5 February 2010

Councillor of the Year Conference

I was in London yesterday for the LGiU Councullor of the Year Conference.

The keynote speakers were the three Party local government spokespeople - John Denham for Labour, Caroline Spellman for the Conservatives and Julia Goldsworthy for the Lib Dems.

John Denham arrived late and left early, but argued while he was there that Labour had great plans to devolve lots more powers to local government. But, as I asked him, why should we believe Labour now when they have had 13 years to give more powers to local authorities and have done virtually nothing.

Caroline Spellman also explained the raft of extra powers that the Conservatives would give local councils. Once again this sounded like a good list. But, I asked her, how could we believe her when Conservatives who have power do the opposite. In Cornwall, Conservatives put localism on hold, cut local highways budgets and local community grants and are planning to cut the hours of some one stop shops. Ms Spellman's answer - the Conservatives have only been in power in Cornwall since June and haven't had a chance to do anything yet.

Given the damage they have already inflicted on localism in Cornwall in seven months, I shudder to think what they could accomplish given more time!

And anyway, how does Caroline Spellman's promise to allow councils more freedom to choose sit with David Cameron's diktat that councils will freeze council tax for two years come what may. Surely their policy should be to allow them to choose what to do?

Afterwards, there were lots of decent workshops on subjects like finance, social media and waste before, at the end of the day, the Councillor of the Year awards were formally announced.

Below is video of me receiving my award as New Councillor of the Year.

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