Cllr Kendall's letter on county merger

5 Sep 2007

The Conservative masters of spin are hard at work as they do their best to convince us of their latest cunning plan. One minute they are telling us what a great job Brentwood Borough Council is doing providing local services. Next minute they are announcing that the Borough Council is going into a joint partnership with Essex County Council to provide a one stop shop for local services. They follow this up with the news that we are going to have one Chief Executive running both authorities, who just happens to be the County's Chief Executive.

What is wrong with that, some of you maybe asking, particularly if the changes provide residents with better services? The Liberal Democrats have fought hard for local residents to have better services, but we want Brentwood Borough Council to keep it's own identity and continue operating as a separate entity from the County Council. We also want the Borough to have it's own Chief Executive whose time is totally focused on meeting the needs of Brentwood residents.

You would have thought that with such a major change on the agenda the Conservative administration would have first consulted with opposition members and strategic partners to discuss any concerns they might have well before any announcement was made.

Sadly this hasn't happened. The only consultation with opposition members on their proposals was an urgently arranged meeting of the Appointments Panel on the same day the news was launched to the press. Sadly I couldn't attend the meeting due to work commitments and gave my apologies, but it seems my views and concerns would have counted for little as the deal had already done behind closed doors. So much for Tory Leader David Cameron's vision of open government.

In Brentwood we have got used to the Conservative administration railroading through their agenda as quickly as possible in an effort to suppress genuine debate. However this latest announcement shows political arrogance of the worst kind. This major change has been signed off as a done deal and announced to the press two weeks before any members of the Council have had a proper opportunity to discuss it at a special council meeting on September 11th.

The Liberal Democrats have now called for a referendum to give local people the opportunity to decide on who runs Brentwood going forward, if the Conservatives are so sure this is a great deal for Brentwood then they should support our call for a referendum and let the people decide.

Yours sincerely

Cllr David Kendall

Leader - Liberal Democrat Group - Brentwood Borough Council