For the second time this week – showing that there is more than pre-Christmas partying on their minds – the dubiously talented collection of non-job holders at the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) has brought forth another “report” supposedly featuring “research”, this time into Police Authorities (PAs). There is even a grand claim that this latest opus is helping to inform debate on the future of PAs (It isn’t).
The “research note” – for which read “collation of the product from more money wasting Freedom of Information (FoI) requests” – is claimed to reveal significant information. It does not. The idea that telling of Chief Executive remuneration levels averaging 9% of total budget, when average staff numbers are just 13, is some kind of ground breaking news is utterly laughable.
Equally laughable is the idea that taxpayers should be outraged, or even concerned, that members of PAs get allowances, and that when you add up all those allowances, you get a much larger number. And it should be noted that no comparison is made of PA costs when put alongside the total cost of policing in any one area. Nor is there any consideration of the effectiveness of these bodies.
And nor will there be: the TPA, as Zelo Street regulars will be aware, gets no nearer to engagement with any of the public bodies whose work it routinely demonises than the incessant stream of FoI requests, each year wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money (paid by those ordinary hard-working taxpayers that the TPA erroneously claims to represent).
But there is one serious purpose behind what is otherwise just another exercise in spreadsheet creation, and that is the TPA’s backing for elected Police Commissioners. How this would save money is not told, but it would mean more elections, and here the TPA is in favour of the additional costs: yes, the TPA is in this instance in favour of increasing public spending.
So how “undemocratic” are PAs? They are made up of elected councillors, and independent members. How would elected Commissioners do better? How would that better serve the needs of the communities they would represent? How would such a system prevent a hobbyhorse riding and ultimately dysfunctional individual winning office and wasting yet more taxpayers’ money?
The TPA will not tell anyone the answers to any or all of those questions, because it does not have them. All it has is its single objective: to demonise Government – any Government – along with public service and public works. That may satisfy the test of ideological purity, but it does not address the requirement to serve the public purpose.
And that’s not good enough.
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