Letters, Tuesday, April 22, 2014

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Democracy has been neutered

EVERY May those of us who are civic minded, and those of us who care about how and why decisions are made about where and how we live, sign-up to an agreed democratic process.

 A process where, if the political powers don’t make sensible decisions, we have the right to vote them out and try again.

 However, local government has changed to the point we can no longer be certain that those elected to power are the dog wagging the tail or the tail being wagged by unelected senior officers. Officers who took on a sense of duty because once upon a time they were poorly paid – unlike their private sector equivalent.

 Yet now they sit on handsome salaries – a job for life once they rise above head of service position. It is this powerful, unelected group, who have cut off the appendages of the elected members. The same officers do deals, which in the real world would be reported to the police, but in their world are reported after the deed is done to the members, who then are forced to endorse them otherwise they would look as though they were not in control.

 These same officers act as a club which is for private unelected members and protect each others position and pension until they leave. Yet who are they? No one knows them or can hold them responsible.

 And so the election comes but nothing ever changes as the officers have neutered democracy.

George Craig

We need to force polictical change

THE letter on Tuesday, April 15, implies the Parliamentary Standards Commission that over ruled IPSA and reduced Maria Miller’s expenses to £5,800 was a committee of Tories.

 This is just not true. Looking at the breakdown of the committee on the Parliamentary website shows that the Independent committee is made up of five Tories, two Lib Dems, three lay members and four labour MPs and is actually chaired by a Labour MP.

 Anyone believing that this debacle is limited to any one party is deluded. They all seem to have enjoyed squeezing the public purse. Don’t forget that Alastair Darling, former Labour Chancellor, apparently flipped his main residence four times and he was put in charge of the UK Treasury and HMRC.

 While all this has been going on, we can count on one hand the number of brave MPs who have stood up and said this is wrong as too many have stood by and quietly condoned fraud instead of speaking up about it.

 My advice is to vote for anyone but the three main parties to force change upon the present group and let IPSA impose its standards on newcomers instead of allowing the incumbents to distort IPSA’s recommendations about expenses.

 They just don’t get it and are all full of the “do you know who I am” mentality.

Kevin Leary

Sunderland