County Councillor Strong Leader Problem

County Councils are the principal implementer of all things having to do with schools, social services, roads, local transport, and most infrastructure issues. They have massive budgets, and require great care to deliver effective service to the residents. So, where is this “strong leader” function  most broken?

  1. Nature of the Strong Leader Setup: strong leaders’ sole and most important talent is getting elected by the other councillors at the start of the term. To do that they have to be able to offer special deals to their leadership team, this is called the “Executive”, usually comprising the inner clique who thrive based on the deferential sycophantic behaviour demanded by the position…
  2. Qualification; Most councils are like Surrey, with budgets of more than £1 Billion.  The leader of Surrey? Former double glazing salesman with no large institutional financial experience whatsoever. The consequence of a “strong leader” with no qualifications?  Constant and running mistakes confusing the construction of assets and current expenses. Consider the implementation of all new lighting across Surrey at a cost of £187M, and then turning them all off to save £403K. Or closing the access to rubbish dumps to save £400K, and spending £2.5M dealing with the rogue “fly tipping” on all of our country lanes. Way past penny-wise and pound-foolish…
  3. Inability to manage up and down stream. With a constantly changing funding process from the central government, County Councils have to be able to have to have two talents in dealing with them: clear understanding of where they are going, and a clear way to make it work. Same issue downstream. The downstream entities, Borough Councils, have 5 responsibilities, but actually involve themselves in 20 or 30 activities. Do they need to? Not at all, but County Councils let em get away with it…
  4. Technology; there isn’t any… With each passing year, they get further behind by decade proportions. Do they have iPads and computers? Of course, do they do even a fraction of what they could do? Not on your life. And why? The “strong leaders” are so weak in knowing what can be done, they can provide no leadership.

The solution?
1-eliminate the strong leader provision to allow incompetents to be removed with a vote of 15% of the members
2-term limits of 2 terms
3-electronic voting to allow full participation by the electorate
4-demand full consultation using technology of all county-wide issues
5-all representatives need to prove they have lived in the area they represent for 5 years or more