Observer Comment: Council restructure - Cllr Birch must be wary

IT’S not often the seemingly dry business of a local council restructure creates such interest and controversy.

However, what is being suggested at HBC is bound to raise eyebrows among people who have only a passing interest in the local government machine.

Like many authorities, Hastings is struggling financially following Government cuts and has been hit harder than most because of the loss of its area based grant.

So saving money by reducing senior officer posts, to protect frontline services, seems sensible. Even the extreme proposal to axe the chief executive has an obvious logic.

Less obvious, however, is why the void created by getting rid of this impartial and a-political role at the top of the organisation, should be filled - however partially - by a politician.

The report penned by Cllr Birch and Cllr Jay Kramer bears a sentence stating a desire to increase councillor input into the strategic work of the council’s management team.

This is blurring a line which exists at all levels of the British legislature.

Officers and councillors do work together but officers ensure a separation of powers where policy can be implemented without political motivations.

Cllr Birch must be wary he does not break down this barrier.


WHEN England take on Spain tomorrow at Wembley they will wear their poppies with more pride than ever before.

Just a few days ago the interfering busybodies at FIFA’s ivory towers refused to let our lads wear shirts with embroidered poppies to mark Remembrance Day.

It appears the ‘powers-that-be’ have now relented after intervention from Prince William and David Cameron.

The team - including Hastings own Gareth Barry - should be even more inspired to go out and make a message.

An inspired performance against the European and World Champions.

And no doubt the odd message on a T-shirt underneath their England tops may appear to tell FIFA where to stick their officious edicts.

Our boys will now wear black armbands with embroidered poppies as a compromise.


And leading by example again is the inspirational world of rugby league.

England and Wales’ rugby league players will be wearing poppies on their shirts this weekend, along with the other two teams - Australia and New Zealand - involved in the Four Nations competition.

In truth, it appears the sad demise of FIFA under the misguidance of Sepp Blatter should warrant a permanent black armband for all footballer players.