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Local democracy at the price of Christmas Lights


A local blogger has caused so much outrage among town councillors in Somerton, eight out of 11 of them have quit the council. This report by the BBC highlights how this microcosm of upset reflects things on a national scale. The web, hunger for increased accountability and transparency in our local authorities and Freedom of Information requests, have all contributed to the capability of the public to push local councillors out of a job they do voluntarily.

While the councillors were angry at name calling and unnecessary malice (two councillors, for example, were called ‘the ugly sisters’), people in Somerton said the blog raised their awareness that something wasn’t right in the council, and they recently had a meeting to call a referendum on the council’s plans to move a recycling centre in the town.

Blogger Niall Connolly said he had raised awareness and all he wants is for the town council to publish information about their finances. But BBC reporter Michael Crick said the whole storm comes at a price – since with a defunct council, the town will have no Christmas Lights this year.

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