The Election Biggest Issue

Hampshire County Council Building
Hampshire County Council Building

Trust me (yes, I know I am a politician and that is difficult to do) but I can tell you that if I asked 500 local voters what the most significant issue in local government is… not a single one would answer with what I am about to share with you.

However, if I told you that my best estimate of the cost involved was £1 million of taxpayer’s money and that this provided zero benefit to you, but provided a very nice windfall to lawyers and consultants…

You might begin to see why this issue matters a lot, but has gone well under the radar in terms of judging how well the Tories have done in local government.

You won’t see the words “Devolution” appear on any Tory leaflet.

This is because the whole business of a proposed local government reorganisation that went nowhere, but cost an absolute fortune in officer time, lawyers and consultants is a major embarrassment.

It involved Hampshire County Council and the District & Borough Councils, (including are own Tory run New Forest District Council) as well as the two Unitary Councils, Southampton & Portsmouth.

All of them were mostly concerned with protecting their own Empires and commissioned “evidence” that conflicted with each other’s evidence, eventually convincing government that the whole shooting match was a waste of time.

So, some won’t vote because of Brexit, some will decide to do so on the basis of local issues… but nobody will likely vote to express shock and horror over the complete madness of wasting a million quid on a devolution / local government reorganisation that went nowhere.

I just have the slightly smug satisfaction of being on record as having told them not to go along along this route at the outset.

Ironically, the retiring Tory Chairman of NFDC acknowledged as much in his leaving speech at the full council meeting this week.

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