Friday, 26 April 2013

RESTORE THE ANCIENT COUNTIES AND END THE QUANGOS


It is good news that our historic county names are coming back. But it is bad news for the quangos.

The communities secretary Mr.Eric Pickles said this week that the names Cumberland and Westmorland- and the dozens of other ancient county names- should now be used as much as possible to remind us that our proud local history makes us who we are are. We agree with all of that.

But Mr Pickles forgets one thing:  as well as local history of which we are proud, there is also national history, the sort of history made in Westminster and Whitehall. And we are not proud of that.

Why should we proud of the part Westminster and Whitehall played in ending the power of these historic counties in the early seventies?

These fine old counties vanished on the orders of Prime Minister Mr Edward Heath.

Mr Heath believed in big centralised government
And his  1974 local government act, as well as  ending centuries of heritage, gave Whitehall all it needed to  grab power from local communities.

With all that local power safely tucked away in Whitehall, the quangos- unelected and non-accountable  governing bodies-  started to flourish.

Quangos were safe to do exactly as they wished, in the knowledge that any power to check them had been removed by Mr. Heath.

Those of us who have fond  memories of Cumberland and Westmorland hope that newly-innovated community efforts here in Cumbria mean that a start has been made to restore that power to local people.

And, who knows, a start on the road to restoring full power to a revived Cumberland and Westmorland?

These admirable community initiatives  are going ahead in Upper Eden-the Kirkby Stephen-Brough area- initiated and strongly supported by the government and local  M.P. Mr Rory Stewart (Penrith and the Border).

Ironically, a quango  in that area, has been upsetting Kirkby Stephen people with its apparently bossy ways.

Two Castles Housing Association appears to be behaving in  simiar bossy ways to another Cumbria housing quango, the giant Riverside Housing Association of Penrith