The Guardian is running with a story on Gordon Brown's plans to encourage councils to hold a referendum on how money should be spent in local council areas.
I'm all for devolving power, but I don't like government by referendum, particularly when it comes to single issues which involve spending money. Council spending has to be looked at in its entirity. If you ask people in an area dominated by elderly people if the council should fund play schemes for children, the answer would be no. If you ask people in an area with low numbers of pensioners of spending on social services for the elderly should be increased, the likely answer again would be no. Councillors are elected to make decisions and because of their position they have access to knowledge, information and expertise that we as ordinary members of the public are not able to access or even to understand.
I prefer to elect people to make decisions and not second guess them the whole time.
Mr Brown would be better off giving councils more power to make decisions, devolving power and responsibility to them so that electors can hold them responsible rather than electing people and then subverting their rights to make decisions. If we don't like what councillors do, we have the right to vote against them or stand against them. That's democracy.