No one, it seems, is happy with the £1 a week rates rise announced by Secretary of State Peter Hain. The Newsletter puts it down to Hain’s left wing extravagances. If ever there was an indication of what the term democratic deficit emans, it has to be a sudden 19% jump in the cost of local services!
In the absence of Stormont, the only means of expressing dissent over spending and tax decisions is through local councillors. However the various quangos (about 150 of them) who spend a large tranche of the public money in Northern Ireland are only indirectly accountable to councils. In turn, Hain is left with making choices for which he is primarily accountable to the UK taxpayer in general. It puts severe limits on the extent he can be amenable to local views.
And for that state of affairs, the current Secretary of State is not solely to blame.