Local government must be reformed

PUBLISHED: 12:40 26 October 2006 | UPDATED: 12:05 04 May 2010

BACK in 2003, I was elected to represent the residents of Cheveley Ward on East Cambridgeshire District Council. If readers are unaware, Cheveley Ward comprises the Cambridgeshire part of Newmarket, plus the villages of Ashley, Cheveley, Kirtling and Upen

BACK in 2003, I was elected to represent the residents of Cheveley Ward on East Cambridgeshire District Council. If readers are unaware, Cheveley Ward comprises the Cambridgeshire part of Newmarket, plus the villages of Ashley, Cheveley, Kirtling and Upend.

One view I have come to during the past three years of public service is that local government is in need of radical reform.

This is highlighted in Newmarket where almost the entire town is surrounded by villages that are in Cambridgeshire.

In Cheveley Ward, local people look to

Newmarket for their essential services, such as healthcare, banking, legal advice and retailing, yet they pay their Council Tax to a local authority which is centred almost 20 miles away in Ely. it is ridiculous.

Ideally, Forest Heath and East Cambridgeshire district councils should amalgamate, with more powers being devolved to local communities. The difficulty here is that they are based in different counties. This would not be a problem, however, if a new merged and enlarged local authority was granted unitary status. This would also help to overcome the county border issues, which are too numerous to mention.

Under any future restructuring, I consider it should not be possible for any person to serve on more than one council. There are obvious difficulties in Newmarket with members of the town council having dual membership. this inevitably leads to conflicts of interest. On East Cambridgeshire District Council there are members who also serve on the county council as well as their own town or parish councils.

Council Tax payers have every right to expect value for money. Modernisation is long overdue. I encounter, on a regular basis, people who fail to understand which council is responsible for each service. The current structure is cumbersome and further highlights the necessity for strengthening on the lines that I have indicated.

The priority for local government in the future must be to drive up standards and to more effectively meet the demands of modern-day society. I am convinced that the most economic way forward would be for one larger authority

PETER CRESSWELL

Cllr for Cheveley Ward

Peterhouse Drive

Newmarket

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