Radical overhaul of county services planned in secret

December 15, 2009 9:58 AM
Nichola Harrison

Nichola Harrison

A major project which will lead to a radical overhaul of council, health, economic development and emergency services is being run in secret.

The £300,000 scheme, funded by taxpayers' money, involves 120 people drawn from across Cambridgeshire who are meeting behind closed doors.

There are no published papers and no chance for the public to get involved, yet Making Cambridgeshire Count is expected to lead to "radical change".

The membership includes ruling political group members of the six Cambridgeshire local authorities, which means most of them are Tories with not a single Labour councillor and few Liberal Democrats. Some of the members are not elected at all, such as NHS managers.

Furious Nichola Harrison, County Lib Dem Spokesperson for Growth and Resources and Petersfield city councillor, said: "These people are planning a radical overhaul of all the county's services with little outside involvement. This is not democratic. It should be done in a fully transparent and accountable way.

"But we are not being told who is involved or what they are planning. There is no public involvement and it is heavily dominated by Conservative councils.

"The county council insists that the project will not involve making decisions; that they will only be made by the various outside organisations, such as the NHS, after due process. This seems a poor argument; the project will make recommendations for action and, by definition, these will include some options and exclude others as determined in secret by the chosen few.

"In a democracy, the public and all their elected representatives should have a right to influence the whole process, not just the final act. I believe that the county council, which started the project, should now ensure that it is undertaken in a democratic way."

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