Letter from Cllr Harry Phibbs to the Hammersmith and Fulham Chronicle
UKIP's gains in the recent local elections were felt to be more to do with national issues - like immigration and the EU than local issues.
It has been widely reported that David Cameron proposes to renegotiate our membership of the European Union and then to hold an in/out referendum. Those who would like us to be a self governing nation opening up our global trading opportunities welcome this. A Conservative Government is needed to achieve this.
However there is some local relevance to our EU membership. EU red tape is making it harder for Hammersmith and Fulham Council to cut the Council Tax and improve services. The cross party Local Government Association says that "ridiculous EU procurement rules are making it harder for councils to save money by sharing services." The rules are "making it virtually impossible for councils to give preference to local suppliers" and "force those wishing to pool services with neighbouring local authorities into an unnecessarily lengthy and costly EU-wide tendering process."
The bureaucratic burden makes it unrealistic for small firms to pitch for contracts - meaning the Council has to pay more to its suppliers. There are also EU directives which cause delays and perverse outcomes in planning cases increasing the amount spent on lawyers. This is not just about saving money. It is also about local democracy. These should be decisions for the elected local councillors not matters imposed by European Commissioners.
At a recent Council meeting we passed a motion calling on the government: "To take the fight to Brussels on behalf of the residents of Hammersmith & Fulham to promote a re-write of the rules stifling public service innovation" and "To allow more freedom to award contracts to local suppliers, including relaxing rules that demand that procurement contracts to employee organisations or staff mutuals must be opened to providers across Europe."
I was disappointed that the Labour councillors voted against - given that their colleagues nationally in the LGA signed up to this cross party campaign.
Cllr Harry Phibbs
(Ravenscourt Park Ward. Conservative.)
Hammersmith Town Hall,