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EFFICIENCY REVIEW GROUP REPORT : THE COUNCILLORS VIEW Cllr. Cรกit Keane,B.A.M.A; H.Dip Mont. Ed. Vice-chairperson L.A.M.A.


106 Recommendations 



The report contains many proposals of merit which should be pursued, but it also contains many that we totally oppose. An Bord Snip Eile -as the Review group has been informally dubbed - has made 106 recommendations.


Participation  

LAMA not invited I understand that the Minister Gormley is to appoint an implementation body.


COST-EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT

Local Government must operate in a cost-effective and efficient manner. €300 million in savings already achieved by Local Government in the last two years


RESPONSE 

The response from our own members in LAMA has ranged from cautious resistance to outright hostility to some proposals. I want to put it on the record here today that County/Town/City Councils are all together part of Local Government and we are not one against the other – we are all for the principle of subsidiarity, local democracy and effective and efficient delivery of services.


OPTIMAL EFFICIENCY IN PROGRAMME DELIVERY 

LAMA recognizes the need for a review on service delivery while also recognizing that Local democracy and efficient delivery of services may sometimes conflict. Larger or combined inter or infra-municipal cooperation and or geographic groupings. Local democracy requires smaller units which facilitate citizen participation.


BALANCE 



L.A.M.A. stresses that the balance between the two must be carefully managed. To attain the size required to carry out certain responsibilities yet also maintain separate municipal structure to reinforce local democracy.


SHARED AND JOINT SERVICE PROVISION TO DATE 

Local authorities already have extensive experience to date of shared and joint service provision as pointed out in the report At local level multiple examples of shared services exist between Town and county. We have totally bought into new public management (NPM) philosophies -


EFFICIENCY OVER EFFECTIVENESS AND INDIVIDUALISM OVER COMMUNITARIANISM. 

Experiences from other countries indicate that the pursuit of greater productive efficiency in service delivery through the quest for economies of scale will lead to a territorial reorganization of local government, the amalgamation or abolition of rural communities and the establishment of metropolitan forms of government in large conurbations” (Dr Aodh Quinlivan, Department of Government, University College Cork 2004)


EUROPE'S CHARTER OF LOCAL SELF GOVERNMENT 

Ireland has signed up to the Council of Europe's Charter of Local Self-Government which is predicated on the principle of subsidiarity.


SUBSIDIARITY/LOCAL DEMOCRACY 

The potential for local authorities to influence and shape economic and social development locally is very significant and should not be underestimated or undermined.


EFFICIENCY IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT 

I think the present debate on efficiency in the absence of a debate on democracy is flawed. One priority in ensuring efficiency is that local government is sufficiently resourced to carry out its functions.


FINANCE 



Some very good recommendations on value for money/audit/reporting/ More controversial -Levying of local taxes - worthy of discussion in the context of local democracy and efficiency.


Finance cont’d 

We all know that Local Authorities are ‘fairly’ big spenders –roughly 8.5 billion this year


TRANSFER OF POWER IN ONE DIRECTION  

To the centre: This does not incentivize local authority members to take bold actions on funding. Managers given the power to act where councillors fail to adopt measures as required under legislation


QUANGOS:



There are some good recommendations on Local Government and the Wider Public Service..


ANALYSIS 

I would like somebody to do an analysis on HOW MANY functions have been removed. Penalty system instead to make LG more responsible.


VISION OF THE GREEN PAPER 

 

Decreased dependency of local government on the centre Increased reliance of citizens on their local authority Established credentials of local government at national level Efficient delivery of services combined with local choice and decision-making.


Principals underling reform of local Government   

Importance of local democratic institutions. Subsidiarity Responsibility and accountability of local representatives Balance between the range of local functions and coherence, value for money and efficiency Focus on Quality Customer Service


THE SCOTISH EXPERIENCE 

We should examine what happened in Scotland following their efficiency review of Local Government - The drop in local electoral turnout was significant; In 1995 when they went from 62 local authorities down to 32 –the initial figure or cost estimated in achieving this was 120m the final result was very different at 400m - with devastating local results as well. A scientific analysis of the Scottish experience would be advisable.


PROCUREMENT 

there are some good recommendations on cooperative procurement & ‘some’ shared services in the report.


SHARED SERVICES 

The Review Group have acknowledged –that “ Although the benefits of shared services can be considerable, international experience illustrates the importance of evaluating each proposal for shared services on its merits - to ensure that the new arrangements will improve or at least maintain service standards”


ECONOMIC COST RECOVERY 

recommended that local authorities should be reimbursed for the economic cost of providing services for Government Departments and other agencies other economic cost recovery recommendations that ‘may’ be politically more sensitive.


Waste  

Councilors are powerless here “The Group is advised that it is planned to publish a consultation document on the future direction of national waste policy”


WATER 

Some good proposals on conservation/prevention of waste; energy; 10 proposals in all. The elephant in the corner – water charges -a political decision commented on.


STAFFING 

Reduction of Directors; Senior and middle management; and staff reduction generally. L.A.M.A. recognizes the need to review local Government staffing/directors etc and there are some good recommendations, but numbers have remained static for a number of years now, despite increased demands for services due to economic and demographic developments, as well as the demands in environmental services and EU legislation. The reduction in numbers of Managers is a different matter and one which L.A.M.A. cannot endorse


L.A.M.A. Opposition to JOINT ADMINISTRATIVE AREAS          

Carlow and Kilkenny; Cavan and Monaghan; Galway City and County; Laois and Offaly; Leitrim and Sligo; Longford and Westmeath; Mayo and Roscommon; North Tipperary and South Tipperary; Waterford City and County. The local government arrangements in Limerick City and County reviewed by the Limerick Local Government Committee –just published.


MISCELLANEOUS 

“The payments and expenses provided to local elected members should be kept under review to ensure that they remain reasonable and proportionate”. I do think there should have been recommendations on provision of back up research facilities, and independent legal advice for councillors.


REPRESENTATION 



We are second last at the moment in terms of local representation in EU only the U.K. trails after us we have 35,000 average per council; 2,500 per councillor and if the snip (not review group) recommendations go ahead we will end up with 182,000 per councillor. this is not local government. E.g. France has 118 per councillor.


SOME OTHER GOOD PROPOSALS  

Housing assessment; Advertising legislation; Consultants; logistics e.g. installing GPS systems in local authority fleet; Innovation Fund; Local dev. Bodies; and indeed others.


ROADS 

Tolling charges be extended from motorways to national roads – totally opposed.


TRANSFER OF FUNCTIONS FROM TOWNS TO COUNTY 

The Review Group is recommending that the roads/planning/housing/rating related functions of town councils be transferred to their respective county council. The Town councils are very annoyed or should I say apoplectic about this proposal and LAMA has come out publicly, and supported our Town Councils in this.


TRANSFER OF FUNCTIONS FROM COUNTY to TOWNS 



We all acknowledge that there are some functions better done locally and some carried out on a more county/regional basis. Recommended tht county councils should be allowed delegate some local aspects of housing service provision to towns where this is economically efficient.


PLANNING 

Some good recommendations on planning efficiencies; Note Cost of planning in the North of Ireland vs. the South; Northern Ireland € 765 = cost of single house planning application = € 65eruo in Republic, actual cost of processing that application over €1,500 .


ON LINE MOTOR TAX  

Should not penalize elderly or computer illiterate. Age Action - 80% of the over 65 are not computer literate.


WHITE PAPER 



We are operating in a vacuum in the absence of the publication of the White paper on Local government. At least 16 reviews of local government since the 1962. and remind you of what (Callanan & Keogan, 2003) siad




“The strengths of local government as a democratic instrument are its closeness to the population, its elected status, its accessibility and the opportunity it provides for public participation in the democratic process�.

Cait Keane  

autumn seminar LAMA

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