Headlines: August 24th, 2004

Current restrictions on local council employees playing an active part in politics are excessive and need to be reviewed according to the local democracy think tank the Local Government Information Unit. It has produced a new pamphlet called “Barred From Politics”, as part of its campaign to modernise the legislation.The publication sets out a case for less draconian rules and comes as the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has promised a consultation paper on reforming the restrictions, which were introduced in the Local Government and Housing Act 1989.

The new pamphlet is the latest publication in the Information Unit’s campaign, Perilous Democracy, which aims to remove the barriers and disincentives that it believes stop people participating in local politics either by standing to be councillors and school governors or by volunteering for other public service roles.

LGIU Policy Officer Tracy Gardiner, who is the author of “Barred From Politics”, says the present political restrictions on public sector workers are excessive, going way beyond the reasonable and limited set of restrictions that are necessary. She claims they operate to the point of unreasonably restricting the political freedoms that are taken for granted in a democracy. She calls them inconsistent and outdated and argues for changes to the rules.