You probably have to be a bit of a local politics nerd to be aware of the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA). This is comprised of council leaders from Essex County Council, Brentwood, Thurrock, Basildon, Castle Point, Southend and Rochford. You may have heard rumours about the re-shaping of local government and the formation of a new ‘super council’ covering the south of Essex: Plans to cut back Thurrock Council and hand over planning and regeneration powers to new regional super council run by a mayor.

Well, it’s come to light that meetings about this have been taking place under the auspices of ASELA. Meetings which were very secretive and it turns out, quite expensive to stage: “This is about creating jobs for the top brass in the south Essex councils”: ‘Super council scheme’ has already cost £1.2 million and meetings are described as ‘sandwiches are laced with gold’. Meetings which if the proposals discussed at them are ever implemented, will eventually have a significant impact on our lives. Meetings that for some unfathomable reason, also cost a fair bit to stage…

As anarchists and given the level of cynicism we have about local government structures, we haven’t really got an opinion either way on these proposals as whatever emerges would still have a massive disconnect with the residents they’re supposed to be serving. That’s the way the system is rigged. Sure, it would reduce our workload as we’d only have one ‘super’ local authority to slag off! However, it also means that the developers with pound signs in their eyes would have only one, very compliant, regional authority to deal with. It wouldn’t surprise us in the least if some of the push for this ‘super’ local authority was coming from the developers. Cynical? Us? Guilty as charged!

What really gets us is the fact that yet again, proposals that will have a major impact on our lives are being discussed in secret. Through our council and incomes taxes, we pay the allowances and salaries of these f***ers yet they treat us with contempt. Some people still like to hold onto the belief that these councillors and the senior officers who work alongside them are the servants of us, the residents. In an ideal world, that would indeed be the case. We live in a far from ideal world. One where these councillors and their officers think they can rule over us with little or nothing in the way of meaningful accountability. Suffice to say, it’s time these self serving bastards were well and truly held to account…

Update – 21.20hrs Tuesday 4.8

It looks like Essex County Council have their own ideas about local ‘democracy’: Now Essex County Council makes a bid for regional supremo power as local democracy situation becomes even more divisive: Abolition of Thurrock Council is proposed. Basically the idea is this – four new unitary authorities overseen by the creation of a “Greater Essex Mayoral Combined Authority” which would operate above the newly formed councils. Suffice to say, the various local councillors, county councillors and officers involved are fighting like ferrets in a sack!