Dear Editor, Your article last week by Councillor Rob Pocock calling for wider devolution for our Birmingham Districts, and a town council for Sutton, was most refreshing.
But why is Birmingham, as the largest, most centralised, local authority in Europe, allowed the undemocratic council structure that we now have? Where is the local accountability and control? Where is our ‘Localism’?
Why have politicians, MPs and councillors, residents, and yes, even the media, been so quiet about this?
Why do we had to wait for Rob Pocock’s free thinking approach to this subject, to formally make the case?
If the new council administration really means business, we need an inquiry into why devolution has stagnated for so long and what is needed to give it another kick start.
As Sutton residents, we have campaigned for more independence since we were frog marched into Birmingham in 1974, and indeed there are petitions running in our shopping centres now, for our new town council.
As Councillor Pocock points out, Manchester is way ahead democratically, as are our county district councils.
Lichfield is an example, and as a district council has far more legalised authority and independence, with a population less than most of our Birmingham districts. Manchester has unitary authorities, with far greater power and independence, with similar populations to our Birmingham districts. Why do we stand for this?
Yes, we very much want to start with a reinstated Sutton Town Council but in the longer term, we must follow Manchester and London with the Borough Councils, breaking Birmingham into democratic units to compare with the rest of the country and Europe.
This was proposed by Jeff Rooker as an MP in 1983, and discussed by the Cadbury Commission in 1999.
We just cannot continue with the undemocratic mess that we now have, that protects comfortable councillor jobs, and excessive council staff, and council officers. Right now we want efficiency and local accountability, and we want all of the Birmingham Districts included in these changes.
Ken Rushton, Chairman Vesey North Neighbourhood Forum Sutton Coldfield.