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BUCKS TORIES AIM TO CHANGE LOCAL GOVERNMENT

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Buckinghamshire CC is the focus of an article in The New Statesman (p28), which has the aim of looking at how a typ...
Buckinghamshire CC is the focus of an article in The New Statesman (p28), which has the aim of looking at how a typical Tory fiefdom is being run in 1998.

Mark Greenburgh, the 26-year-old leader of the authority which has been Tory since 1888, wants to change the way local government is run, getting it away from the stultifying committee structure. He has instituted a cabinet style of governance that he hopes will lead to greater involvement of backbench councillors.

The cabinet consists of 10 senior councillors and half a dozen officers and takes a much more active managerial role in the running of the council than the previous chairmen's group.

'We have genuine debates and it's more open as all policies can be challenged by anyone, even if its not their department,' he says.

This approach is much more interventionist that the old way of doing things in Buckinghamshire. 'Under the old administration,' says the chief executive, Ian Crookall, 'the majority of Tories gave their time to the public good, rather than because they wanted to deliver a Tory agenda. They were as frustrated as anybody by the Thatcherite move towards centralisation. They tended, too, to leave everything to the officers.'

According to the article, the Bucks Tories, although they would not admit it, are rather enjoying themselves under Labour. The two leading councillors on the committee had just been summoned by John Prescott to be lectured for 50 minutes on how they could implement his plans for integrated transport.

According to a Lib Dem councillor, Susie Pearce, this is more than they got under the Conservatives. 'When it was a Tory government, the councillors used to say 'We'll have a word with the minister, he'll see us right.' But of course the ministers just ignored them,' she said.

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