In these times of austerity, it comes as no surprise that the subject of how we are governed at a local level has re-emerged as a topic of conversation and a possible way to save millions of pounds.
There are many schools of thought on how local government should be organised (see page 8 of this week’s Mail, ‘Scrapping councils could save millions’).
Local authorities such as Harborough District Council have staff on the ground with local knowledge who can, hopefully, make appropriate decisions for the people living and working in the district.
But do we really need quite so many councillors?
And how can such authorities continue to deliver the services we all demand with budgets being squeezed every year?
It is claimed that scrapping Leicestershire’s district and borough councils could save County Hall millions of pounds each year.
Scrapping district councils in favour of one all-encompassing unitary authority could help the county council cut £25m from its budget over the next five years.
However, such a move may not serve democracy in the county.
The introduction of county unitaries elsewhere has saved substantial sums of money, but there is a very real danger that it leads to decisions being taken by people with just a passing knowledge of an area, rather than those who care passionately for its future.
There is no easy solution, but what is right for local people must be at the centre of the democratic process.
Column by Neil Pickford.
Follow Neil on Twitter, @NeilPickfordHM.