In an effort to
scare convince people to pay the household charge, politicians including Desperate Dan Phil are extolling the virtues of local government and local services and paying for them. There’s a whole lot of mentioning of playgrounds and swimming pools in the last few days as if we were drowning in them.
This tactic of linking the payment to local facilities and democracy might work if successive governments had not run local government into the ground taking away powers and either running things from Dublin or giving powers to the unelected and unaccountable executive. Of course before that it was the most corrupt arena in Irish politics. (cf Mahon/Moriarity tribunals)
Some government politicians are saying that that there has been reform from the current government – merging a few councils does not make for a vibrant local democracy. Not a word on reducing the number of councillors (we are very much over represented) or directly electing a mayor anywhere.
The ‘trick’ of removing funding for local government from the book of estimates and saying that the household charge is going to fund all these ‘important’ things won’t fool many. Neither will it wash when the government start saying that people have not paid their household charge so services have to be cut further. And it does not reform local government or the mess that is local authority housing and regeneration, stop the closure of libraries, the absence of regulation of bin charges and private operators, the lack of local play and recreation facilities in many areas. It won’t stop TD’s interfering in local politics either or concentrate their minds on national issues.
I am in favour of a progressive property tax but what are the chances when it is finally introduced that the money will remain ring fenced to fund local amenities and administration? The household charge is another example of this government introducing charges or cutting payments without reforming anything and in this case the continued neutering of local democracy.