I believe in local democracy – I just don’t understand it | Adrian Chiles

I don’t have any complaints, but if I did, who would I moan to? Parish or county council? MP or mayor? I’m baffled

I was chatting to some locals in a village somewhere over Christmas. They were bemoaning various decisions that had been made – to the detriment, in their view, of the community. There was planning stuff, blocked sewers, restrictions demanded by a preservation society, highways and so on. These people weren’t professional moaners, or even keen amateur moaners. They were just exasperated.

I opened my mouth to impart some sage advice, but nothing came out, as it dawned me that I knew nothing of any use to them. I have no clear idea where the power lies. Is it the parish council, the county council, the regional government or central government? And where does the local member of parliament fit in to all this? As a voter in a democratic society, it is surely critical for me to know who is responsible for what, so I know who to blame or praise, who to vote in or out and who to try to influence. I really don’t. Perhaps it’s just me.

Adrian Chiles is a broadcaster, writer and Guardian columnist

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