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Overview of local government reform in Ireland Dr. Seán Ó’Riordáin


Introduction

• Overview of Local Government Reform • The Role • Finance • Prospects?


Sub-National Structures Statutory Local Government 

 

80 Town/Borough Councils 34 County/City Councils 34 County/City Development Boards 8 Regional Authorities 2 Regional Assemblies

Local Administration  60 plus Area based Initiatives  52 Local Development Companies  33 County/City Childcare Committees  35 County/City Enterprise Boards  32 VECs  5 Harbour Authorities


But critically... •15 Government Departments •124 State Companies ...and what about their arms length agencies... ...critical that local government reform be seen within an overarching reform of the Irish public service!


Is bigger better?

NO •Evidence suggests that bigger might be better in a limited range of services •Smaller is better in citizen focused services


Country

Units of Administration

Councillor/ Elector Ratio

France

36,880

116

Ireland

34 Co/City Councils 80 Towns

3,585

Italy

8,215

397

Spain

8,149

597

United Kingdom

472

2,605

711


But what about elsewhere...Finland < 2 000

48

2 001–5 999

ROVANIEMI

134

KEMI

6 000–9 999

66

OULU

75 % 10 000–19 999

45

KOKKOLA

80 %

VAASA

20 000–39 999

31

SEINÄJOKI

KUOPIO JOENSUU

JYVÄSKYLÄ

40 000–99 999

17

100 000 and over 7

PORI

50 %

SAVONLINNA MIKKELI TAMPERE

NOKIA RAUMA HÄMEENLINNA LAHTI

LAPPEENRANTA

KOUVOLA RIIHIMÄKI HYVINKÄÄ TURKU JÄRVENPÄÄ KOTKA NURMIJÄRVI KAARINA KERAVA SALOTUUSULA PORVOO LOHJA KIRKKONUMMI HELSINKI © Municipal

boundaries: Statistics Finland


New Zealand Territorial Councils • 11 Regional Councils • 12 City Councils • 54 District Councils • 6 Unitary Authority Councils • Community Boards • All elected • Auckland City Region-largest pop 1.216 m, 8,000 employees • Chatham Island-population 726 • 3 year electoral cycle • Regional mayors elected by regional councillors • City/district directly elected mayors (non-executive bully pulpit)


Facts not myths please... •Need for a comprehensive overhaul of public management in Ireland •Ireland may need more local elected members to increase access into politics not less •Ireland is not Manchester! •Reform must reflect Irish factors but we must learn from others •The Mayor is not the only answer... •Place-based leadership the crucial role


Key Reform Issues • Lack of meaningful linkage between local authorities and community groups • Comparatively few local authorities and councillors • Local Government should be given a voice in relation to the local government dimension of matters such as the preparation of national economic programmes • More attention should be paid to the policy role vested in the elected members • Structured arrangements to facilitate contact between local authorities and community groups should be devised by each local authority


Better Local Government-1997/98 • BLG was based on four core principles: -Enhancing local democracy and widening participation -Serving the customer better -Developing efficiency in local government -Providing proper resources to allow local government to fulfil the role assigned to it

• Partnership approach to national economic and social planning would be mirrored in the representation on the SPCs • Establishment of Community and Enterprise Groups which would include members drawn from local development bodies


Task Force on Integration: 1999-2000 • Integrated strategies for each county/city involving a wide range of public sector agencies, the social partners, the community and voluntary organisations

• Focusing on social, economic and community development at local level • The major problem with the existing structures was identified as the weakness of the linkages between them • Establishment of Community and Voluntary Fora


Efficiency Review-2010

• • • • • •

Organisational Efficiency Issues Local Government Staffing Value for Money and Audit Shared Services Procurement Local Government Services


Mahon... •Need a system based upon the democratic process •Complementing best international practice • Transparent systems in place which underpin the decision-making • A renewed local political process is central to a renewed planning process •Charter on Local Self-Government


12 Principles for local Government Fair conduct of elections, Representation and Participation

Responsiveness, to ensure the local authority meets the legitimate expectations and needs of citizens

Efficiency and effectiveness, to ensure that objectives are met while

Openness and transparency, to ensure public access to information and

making the best use of resources

facilitate understanding of how public affairs are conducted

Rule of law, to ensure fairness, impartiality and predictability

Ethical conduct, to ensure the public interest is put before private ones

Competence and capacity to ensure that local representatives and officials

Innovation and openness to change to ensure that benefit is derived from

are well able to carry out their duties

new solutions and good practices

Sustainability and long-term orientation, to take the interests of future

Sound financial management, to ensure prudent and productive use of

generations into account

public funds

Human rights, cultural diversity and social cohesion, to ensure that all

Accountability, to ensure that local representatives and officials take

citizens are protected and respected and that no one is either

responsibility and are held responsible for their actions.

discriminated against or excluded


Overview of Party Manifestos •Constitutional Reform •Legislature/Executive Re-structuring •Public Sector Re-structuring •Reduction of public authorities through reabsorption/merger •Greater accountability for individual public servants •Re-balancing of local government and agencies •Re-structured arrangements for public service co-ordination


Local Government Specialist Group Submission • • • • • •

• • • • •

The role of the Public Service The role of local government Resourcing of local government The scope for local flexibility A local-national policy framework Greater integration of local, regional and national planning Integration of local development, community development and enterprise development processes A common set of boundaries across public bodies, locally and regionally Underpinning of development board role Refocusing of Member-Official roles Site Valuation Tax/Water Utility Business Case


What we see modern Local Government as... • • • •

• • • • •

Anticipating future challenges and opportunities for the local area; Building coalitions and looking outside community boundaries for knowledge and collaboration; Advocating powerfully on behalf of the local community with the creditability to negotiate across all sectors; Arbitrating between competing local interests and supporting community cohesion, taking tough choices where necessary; Listening to the views of local residents and other stakeholders and building trust in local institutions; Being open with information and ensuring transparency in decision making; Demonstrating a high level of understanding of local issues and having a strong evidence base which shapes policy priorities; Focusing on service performance for its impact on the community rather than to meet government requirements, looking outward rather than upward; and Championing efficiency and service innovation-getting the best value from public expenditure and maximum impact from private investment in their area


Local Government needs active citizens •Community and societal development is based upon a process of collaborative planning •Social inclusion based on targeted local development needs •Partnership / participation based on the development of governance having real inclusion in decision making capability •Democratic legitimacy based upon an integrated framework of elective and participative forms of governance


Key Finance Issues • • • • • • •

Dependency on central government Cost Shifting: Operations vs capital Limited Range of fees, charges and taxes State Agency Role Block Grant/Specific Grants Limited centralization of collection systems Need for efficiencies-back office opportunities


Per Capita Exp 2009 (â&#x201A;Ź)

Austria

2,687

Denmark

15,122

Finland

7,297

Slovakia

883

Lithuania

843

Ireland

2,791


Quick comparison-2011 Location

Fingal

London

Neuss

Grafing

The Hague

Water charges

Nil

€1,200

€1,000

€1,000

€1,044

Property Charges

Nil

€3,000

€300

€400 plus Fire service charge

€232

Motor Tax

€550

€260

€600

€720

€624

Licences

€12.70

N/Ap

€100-€534

€100

n/ap


Summary points to note • • • • • •

Ireland is not centralised Disaggregated model Local Authorities larger than European norm Lower representation levels Lower Public Service Spend proportion Broadly consistent functions save education/public health...but primarily engineering focused


So what about the Future Local Authority? The Programme for Government suggests... • • • • • •

Leadership through the Council Vertical/Horizontal coherence Coordination role Central role in local social inclusion Renewed role in economic development Refocusing of performance determination and evaluation


So this means?...

• • • • • • •

Smaller, streamlined local government arrangements Reduced responsibilities for engineering services Enhanced local economic role Re-balancing of elected member-manager Executive Mayor? Re-configured community development responsibilities Resourcing...???


But what should it mean...? A local government system, fit for purpose, is likely to: • Have more functions •Be more democratically accountable to local communities. •Have a sustainable local funding system, and •Have a more coherent division of functions between town/district, city/county and regional/national levels


What are we likely to have? â&#x20AC;˘ A missed opportunity?

Or a local government system for ... the best small country in the world in which to do business, to raise a family and to grow old with dignity and respect?


Contact Details

• sean@seanoriordain.ie • www.seanoriordain.ie


Overview of local government reform in Ireland Dr. Seán Ó’Riordáin