Wednesday 19 August 2009

Councillors feel shift in powers is needed

SOME 93 per cent of councillors believe there must be a rebalancing of powers between county managers and public representatives, according to a survey conducted by two Fianna Fáil Senators.

But less than half of councillors surveyed would support the introduction of directly elected mayors.

The results of the Joint Survey on Local Government Reform and Directly Elected Mayors, carried out by Senators Jim Walsh and Mark Daly, found that 49 per cent of cross-party councillors would support directly elected mayors.

Questionnaires were sent to all councillors before the local elections in June and 37 per cent responded. A report on the results of the survey were circulated to councillors in recent days.

City or county managers perform the executive functions of the council and, according to 81 per cent of councillors, have too much power. And 93 per cent of councillors said there was a need to rebalance the power of county managers and elected representatives.

The report on the survey stated that the strong response stemmed from “the lack of political responsibility and accountability afforded to county managers”.

It said many councillors felt they, as democratically elected representatives of the people, should be the ones to hold the power.

“It is the councillors who pay the price for bad management of council business. Many councillors feel that their hands are tied in their efforts to effect real beneficial and meaningful change within the system,” the report said.

Mr Walsh said yesterday they would be discussing the results of the survey with Minister for the Environment John Gormley.

“There has been a tendency not to devolve powers to local government, that needs to be looked at,” he said. “There is also a complete imbalance of power within councils, with a lot of executive decisions being made by city and county managers. The democratic mandate must be respected.”

Irish Times

No comments: