Readers are right to be dismayed at the decision of the county council to close the Chichester register office.
At a time when the Conservative-led coalition government is promoting marriage through the tax and benefits system as a stabilising force for society as a whole, here in Conservative-controlled West Sussex, the county council not only closes the register office in the county town but describes this as a ‘discretionary service’ which it is ‘inappropriate and unfair’ to support through taxation.
If that isn’t enough, it can’t even be open and transparent and put the proposal in the public domain for consultation and discussion. Instead, it hides it away in its ‘accommodation strategy’ which is council-speak for an internal review of office space.
While the public may care little which of the council‘s buildings in Chichester houses a service, it will matter greatly if a service is closed altogether. The council’s own procedures and the legislation from which they are drawn, require these kinds of proposals be notified publicly in advance and available for discussion by the council’s scrutiny committees prior to a decision being made.
Your readers might like to ask who is actually accountable for this decision and why he or she has by-passed the council’s own procedures in this way. Shouldn’t we know?