Monday, 22 November 2010


A report on the BBC website noted that the leader of Oxfordshire County Council - his picture rather appropriately resembling a painting by Munch - has said that the government's plans for Councils to publish all their expenditure will cost money. I read on, interested, then discovered that there was actually no story here. I discovered simply that Conservatives at Oxfordshire's County Hall simply revert to type when pushed and insist that the patrician approach to politics is always best, i.e. people don't need to know too much, they should be cared for, patted on the head and given a job at the local mill.

Rather nicely, the government disagrees and has established a principle that providing people with information about where their money is spent is, er, democratic. The Tory leader in Oxfordshire said dramatically on the BBC yesterday that they spend £1bn a year - which is precisely the point. That £1bn is partly my money and I want to see it being spent wisely. Oxfordshire does quite well in terms of sound finances so I would suggest to the good Tory that he has nothing to fear from providing this information.

There will be an additional cost to the Council and there will be a cohort of tedious people with nothing better to do than quibble over tiny details - I used to work for a Council and we knew ours by name - but that's democracy. Messy, troublesome, difficult, annoying, energising, illuminating, pluralising, liberating democracy. Surely the Tories in Oxfordshire support democracy.

By the way, this morning I learned that it would take me 14 minutes to get to the Oxford Park and Ride, up from 11 minutes last week. I learnt this thanks to the invaluable electronic signs on the A40. Worth every penny, I say, although it is strangely troubling that Oxford, like a city in a Philip Reeve novel, appears to be moving further away every day.


  1. Given that Kaier Keith is trying to save £200m a year you would think he would welcome the public going through the lists to find things that could be saved.

    I would start by cutting those full colour magazines that are delivered regularly that helpfully tell us in Abingdon that the County Council isn't going to spend any money on transport here.

  2. You need an electronic sign in Abingdon to tell you how long you're going to be sitting in traffic. They're fantastic!