As we approach the May silly season, I find myself despairing at the future of local government. Many of our local councillors are complacent – and well they might be – since half of our seats are ‘safe Tory’, and the others can only be won by a lot of hard work. One problem for both ourselves and, presumably, the local Labour lot, is the shortage of quality candidates. Last time out, several seats in Wycombe actually elected Tories unopposed, because opposing candidates could not be found!
But what incentive is there to be a local councillor? Local councillors are still theoretically unpaid. There is an allowance, but it is a very modest sum compared to the average 70 hours a month that our district councillors give to their duties. Wycombe District has 60 seats – has the time come to reduce that to twenty or thirty who are all paid a reasonable amount for their time?