Wednesday, 23 November 2011

No, sir, councillors are not part of the voluntary sector


Mind you it rather explains a lot about the attitude of the civil service to local government. One mostly of ignorance:

Speaking at the local infrastructure body Navca’s annual conference in London yesterday (22 November), David Prout, director-general for localism at the Communities and Local Government department, said there should be greater recognition of the volunteering efforts undertaken by many of the country’s 20,000 councillors. Prout said they deserved to be regarded as part of the voluntary sector.

This is nonsense on stilts - councillors are elected representatives. You know, like MPs and MEPs. We are part of the formal structures of governance in England - there is no objective difference between a humble parish councillors and David Cameron in this respect.

For sure the great majority of councillors in England - all those parish and town councillors - do it for nothing but that does not change their formal position as decision-makers. Undertaking something voluntarily does not, however, make you part of the "voluntary sector". After all most of the work in that sector is actually done by paid workers not by volunteers.

And frankly councillors don't need patronising by self-important, overpaid civil servants.


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