By Richard Littlejohn 28th March 2010
'Thirteen years of New Labour rule have made our lives a misery where it matters most to us - on our unswept streets and in our own bin-cluttered backyards. We all depend on the services provided by local councils, yet these days they are run for the benefit of those who work there, not for the people who pay for them.
When I started out in journalism in Peterborough many years ago, the leader of the local council was an engine driver called Charlie Swift, who ran the city in his spare time and didn't receive a penny from the ratepayers in either salary or expenses. He wasn't universally popular. Round town he was known as 'That Bugger Swift'. But the streets were clean, the parks immaculate, the corporation buses ran on time, the roads were in good repair, the schools had a pretty decent record, the car parks were free and the dustbins were emptied twice a week.
That was all anyone wanted from their local authority. But where once the council chamber contained butchers, bakers and builders, we now have a generation of full-time councillors who have never held down a proper job in their lives. They get lavish expenses and allowances, while the old breed of town clerk with a sense of duty has been replaced by 'chief executives' who pretend they are employed to run major commercial organisations and expect to be paid accordingly...