Normally, one would rely on Ministers to sort the wheat from the chaff. My fear however is that they and their civil servants have demonstrated again and again that they do not understand how local democracy works and that they believe they can use Councils as a testing ground for some really silly proposals. When that happens it is local services that suffer, along with the confidence of the electorate in their Councillors and their Council. That is a sure-fire way to damage our democracy. Surely it is time that we said enough is enough.
It's their proposal that people should be barred from serving more than 5 terms as a councillor that affects me most personally. I've done more than five terms already, so if the commission get their way, I wouldn't be allowed to stand again.
When I first read about this on Sunday morning I was annoyed - I've enjoyed being a councillor, feel I do a decent job and I've assumed that my civic future will be determined by the local electorate (who last time gave me about 74 percent of the vote in a town from elects a Conservative MP by a large margin.)
However in the late afternoon I was out delivering some of our Christmas Focus. In the damp December dusk, self-doubt starting to creep in. Do councillors get too complacent after 20 years? What should my aims be? Am I achieving them?
Nothing much is going to happen after my walk in the dusk. I'm still against the commission's proposal for a 5 term maximum - I think such a blanket ban across the whole country is unneccessary and illiberal. I'm not planning to step down.
But this report has unsettled me. The idea that the commission believes I'm a handicap to local democracy has left me with an uneasy feeling....