7 March 2016 – Letter to Gazette
Dave Roberts – Chairman, TeessideTogether
In just the last few months we have seen Redcar and Cleveland Council slam on the anchors on a decision over faith school transport, Darlington needing to close libraries and let go ownership of the famous Victorian Covered Market, Stockton scratching heads to find over £70 million pounds worth of cuts, Middlesbrough carrying £45 million of uncollected council tax and other revenue and Hartlepool looking to plug a ‘black hole’ in its finances of just under £9.5 million next year.
Can someone, somewhere, please tell me this woefully outdated local government structure we currently enjoy is really fit for purpose? And, before the inevitable council leader response arrives of blaming Westminster, take note of your own Local Government Association’s research that recognises a large majority of senior council officers feel restructure is necessary and inevitable.
We have five sets of council everything, plus the soon to be sixth level of local government that is the Combined Authority, a Mayoral Development Corporation and let us not forget the local enterprise partnership. How much red tape and local bureaucracy do 660,000 people need?
Why when something is so obviously broken do we stick our heads in the collective sand and defend the indefensible, oh yes I forgot – turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. Let’s have one ‘Teesside’ wide authority of which Darlington is very welcome to join, and let us run the region businesslike to become efficient and effective and sort out this woeful mess.