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posted 4 Dec 2016, 05:52 by Peter Webb

Next year again (2017) Surrey County Council will withhold its Annual Report on the period ending prior to the election. The universal franchise does not yet extend to formal accountability. The electoral process remains internally with councillors with Party whipping. That flouts the democratic principle honoured in all other comparable bodies. 

Our political leaders choose to ignore this strand in line with the developing disillusion revealed by Brexit, the trump election and across Europe. That attitude is behind this experience of trying to get a ‘just do it’ direction. Efforts to persuade local authorities, concentrating on Surrey County Council, to comply with the spirit of accountability have failed. That is in spite of that sprit being behind much legislation and best practice. Via my MP direction has been sought on standards  from the NAO. They referred this to the Electoral Commission. They in turn gave  a named contact  in the Cabinet Office. Eventually after administrative cock-up the matter was said to be with their constitution group. From there – nothing. A submission was made at their invitation to the House of Commons Inquiry into Voter Engagement which terminated only with registration having so far found but not recommended for –“Lack of belief in the meaning of elections as they are presented; Poor voter turnout is not due to apathy but lack of awareness and information on which to vote;  dissatisfaction with politicians, political parties and UK politics”.  An appeal to the Local Government Ombudsman against the council’s refusal to address the Report to residents has also met with: “This matter affects all or most of the residents within the council’s area and is outside the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction”.