EVER since I came to Hastings, rumours of petty corruption in the borough have filled the air.
Indeed, much of my time in the politics of the town has been spent trying to grapple with the personalities and informal forces giving rise to these rumours.
I must say though that this latest attempt to effectively subvert the local government processes is quite the boldest I’ve seen!
When Councillor Birch said, in last week’s Observer, he has ‘confidence that we have three high-quality chief officers ... the idea that any of them would be a yes man is insulting to them as they are very experienced,’ I have to say he got the point exactly wrong.
The point is that the borough constitution requires a chief executive and this has directly to do with responsible fiscal management of the borough as well as unbiased administration of democracy.
Now Joe Public may think why not just let those borough officers do the CEO’s job anyway.
The answer to that sort of thinking has to do with the way money – your tax money as appropriated by Parliament – is spent locally.
The expenditure of that money is governed by the principles of regularity and, critically, propriety.
So it is very important that we maintain clearly established lines of constitutional accountability.
These would be blurred without the role of chief executive, which is why the position exists in law.
Now, in spite of what I have written above, please don’t believe I support the current system of local government.
Indeed, I would prefer the chief executive were replaced by an elected Mayor.
But we must have that election first, Councillor Birch.