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Charge will pay for rotten system

Sir -- Am I the only one who doesn't have a problem with the notion of a household charge?

I welcome the notion of paying for services according to use. It is only fair in my view that all members of society contribute towards the cost of services, with exceptions only for those unable to pay and not for those who refuse to pay.

However I do have a problem with paying a household charge that has nothing to do with service delivery but that has everything to do with propping up a bloated local authority sector that seems to exist in its current form only to protect jobs within its own ranks.

Do we really need more than 40 rating authorities, a similar number of county councils and dozens of powerless town councils whose effective role is to act as a buffer between citizens and decision-makers? Why is my own county of Roscommon currently using €20m of borrowed money to build a palace to cater for a level of staffing that belongs to an era that is long gone? Why doesn't the Government reform the sector and give us a dozen regional authorities, properly funded with decision-making powers and an ability to fund services from local charges?

The answer, of course, is that such reform and resultant cost savings would erode the political base of the TDs who sit in the Dail, isolated from the problems of real people, and making decisions that affect our pockets while protecting their own interests. The current structure forms the base of a pyramid that is the foundation of the whole rotten borough, so we must pay this tax while getting no benefit from it, and real reform is as far away as ever.

John Mulligan,

Boyle, Co Roscommon

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