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Democracy taken a bit of a hammering

We learned this week about the city council’s plans to stop county councillors from sitting on the Herne Bay Area Member Panel. The leadership of the council maintains that it will save costs and time for their officers, and that it’s unfair for county members to be voting on city affairs. Nevertheless, issues such as the Sea Street roadworks, which we highlighted in last week’s Gazette, show that county affairs can coincide with local matters in Herne Bay. Indeed, it was UKIP councillors Brian MacDowall and Nick Bond that made the improvements their first priority when they won the elections in May 2013. With both tiers outside Herne Bay local government can sometimes feel out of touch with the people it serves. Area Member Panels go a long way to bridging this divide, and give people the opportunity to quiz all their local representatives and keep them accountable. Whether a decision to remove county members would have been taken if Jean Law and David Hirst were still the Conservative Party representatives for Herne Bay is a question to ponder. On the surface at least, it appears a political decision against growing local support for UKIP, which could threaten the local Conservative Party’s grip on power in Canterbury. For now, it appears to be a blow for local democracy, and risks putting councillors out of touch with the people they serve.

Herne Bay Gazette, May 15th 2014

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