AMALGAMATION, merger, major cuts in bureaucracy and management costs, better services, money returned to Council Tax payers. Please, not again. This was the mantra before we had the formation of district councils.
I can remember when town or parish councils held many of the responsibilities that were transferred to the new authority that became HDC.
I saw growth in the district. I saw the new headquarters built, Pathfinder House. I saw all-new refuse-collection vehicles – 'Enviroserve': remember that? A new depot was built.
Now that Pathfinder House and the Godmanchester depot are gone. “No longer fit for purpose” was what we heard. Built 1976. Now gone and replaced.
I noted, too, the disposal of the housing stock, and the growth of the new headquarters of what is now Luminus.
I saw the library, the only post-war building of any architectural merit, also “no longer fit for purpose”, disappear.
I heard of much more growth plans in Huntingdon – a multi-storey car park inside the ring road (the ring road that would solve all the traffic problems).
I saw, too, the escalation of staff numbers and of regulations. One town centre manager became four.
Too many costly mistakes and wrong decisions in too short a period of their existence were starting to mount in the debit column.
Then came the cash crisis. The new Government has set the agenda to bring reality and more democracy, together with real fiscal responsibility. I should have a right to expect from a Conservative-controlled district council to get the message. They use their spin, consultations, pamphlets and newsletters often enough. Instead, a clearly wrong message came from the Huntingdon district.
In spite of outrage expressed by many people and of the needs of resident ratepayers and visitors, they closed their public toilets. This was an abdication of a serious duty.
Then The Hunts Post gave the news that for me was the last straw. Sorry, Councillors Bates, Melton and Brown [leaders respectively of Hunts, Fenland and East Cambs District Councils], I have heard the same mantra before – once bitten, twice shy.
Experience is a hard lesson to learn. Please, no more aggrandising, promoting and encouraging the formation of yet another elected bureaucracy.
Many would rather see a reversal towards real democracy, with decision-making powers given back to smaller bodies. That I would support.
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. So, too, does too big a majority – if not corruption, the result is complacency.