The power of local democracy…

The title of this Blog is not supposed to be ironic – in fact it is meant to be celebratory. However, there is always an element of irony where the subject in hand is local democracy.

This is because of the great centralising tendency of national Government over the last number of years. Unfortunately, blame cannot only be laid at Labour’s door – both Lady Thatcher’s then administration and John Major’s subsequent time in office, effectively set the mould for heavy involvement in local issues from Central Government.

Today, we attended an important rally – to try and save our local hospital, from its threat of downgrading. This is critical, as the hospital (Epsom General Hospital), is the nearest major trauma centre for a number of miles – miles in a densely populated part of South West  London, and the South East of England more generally. Miles, in a location where one cannot afford the time lost in travelling by ambulance to replacement trauma centres; miles that are critical. Literally a matter of life or death.

Not that this seems to matter to the broader NHS Trust responsible for the substantial cuts. Next to be threatened is maternity provision: as Chris Grayling , the local MP (and then Shadow Secretary of State for Transport) states clearly on his website, this would “(leave) Epsom with a much smaller unit with no special care facilities and no emergency cover – creating the risk that mothers needing emergency treatment will have to be rushed to St Helier (Sutton) by ambulance mid-labour.

Many of us in the local area have been campaigning against this reduction in provision for over a year now, thus far to little avail. The fight isn’t over yet, but we have to admit, our faith in local democracy itself needs resuscitation.


Author: Damian Merciar

Damian Merciar is Managing Director of Merciar Business Consulting,, a niche business economics consultancy founded in 1998. He has over twenty years experience in the areas of commercial Business Strategy. He is experienced in the transition environments of nationalized to private sector state utilities and the senior practice of commercial management, advisorial consultancy, and implementation. He has carried out policy advisory work for government ministries and been an adviser to institutional bodies proposing changes to government. He holds an MSc Economics from the University of Surrey’s leading Economics department and an MBA from the University of Kent. Also attending the leading University in the Middle East, studying International Relations and Language, for which he won a competitive international scholarship, and has a BA (Hons) in Economic History and Political Economy from the University of Portsmouth. He is currently based in London.

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