|2010 election results by political colours.|
Before I was elected I knew very little of the structure of our local government and forgive me if I am wrong, but I believe most people don’t either.
In West Sussex we have a three tier structure with the Parish at the lowest level with the District at next level and West Sussex County Council at the top. In the Arundel ward there are currently six parishes which are either a Parish meeting (Burpham, Warningcamp, South Stoke & Houghton), a Parish Council (Lyminster) or a Town Council (Arundel), Parishes are Planning consultees and give their opinion to the planning authority (In Arun District that’s either Arun or the South Downs National Park), Parishes are responsible for community based buildings, like village halls or the Arundel Town Hall they also work with Arun and West Sussex County Council on delivering local based services. The Parish is financed through your Council tax bill through the parish precept
|Local Election Ballot Box.|
At the next level is Arun District which covers many different services, they are the billing authority so collect Council tax on behalf of all the other authorities, e.g. West Sussex County Council (about 78%) Arun District (About 11%) and then the Police Authority (about 9%) and the balance to the Parish. Arun has many different service responsibilities which include, Planning, Housing (Arun has about 3500 council houses known as Social Housing), Affordable Housing, Street Cleansing, Weekly Refuse, Public Conveniences, Leisure Centres, Theatres, leisure Green spaces and parks, Civil Parking enforcement, Car Parks, Well Being agenda, Costal Flooding, Benefits (Council Tax and Housing benefit), Internal Drainage, Drinks Licensing, Taxi Licensing, Environmental Health, Pest Control, Regeneration, I could go on, but we also liaise and work closely with the Police and West Sussex County Council and we deliver all this just under £3. Per week for a Band D household.
At the top is West Sussex County Council which covers Schools & Education, Highways, Social care, Public Transport, Libraries, Children care and Adoption services, Youth Services, Flooding (River, Surface and ground source), Waste processing, local waste centres, delivery of government economic initiatives like Rural Broadband and business grants
Local government is much more efficient than Central government, but the obvious question is could local government be delivered more efficiently, Well I think it could, unitary authorities like Cornwall avoid duplication and can have a more coherent view, but whether unitary councils should be county wide is another question, some counties have super borough or city councils like Havant, Portsmouth or Winchester, I believe there are opportunities to have a super District unitary that would stretch from Chichester to Shoreham that would cut the number of Councillors, save money and be more joined up.
Until next month, Paul Dendle is Arundel Ward & Cabinet Member on Arun District Council and can be contacted at his email Pauldendle@aol.com