This is what Jan Dirk Pruim, clerk of the outgoing Almere council, argues in an essay published this week in Internal Administration. In 2002, municipalities began to work on a dual basis, thanks to which the new post of registrar was introduced. From March 2002, this function was performed in a professional manner and, in large municipalities, the register. It was not easy. The mayors, the aldermen and the clerks were very reluctant to the new situation – double. For the board members, the double work proved to be a difficult task. “In many municipalities, a kind of dumonism was developing. Other councils have confused dueling with dueling, ”says Pruim. It was only after a number of terms on the board that a certain stability was established.
As a result, much of the Registrar’s working domain has yet to be explored, if at all. “ Still, I sense a tendency among clerks to record and demarcate what is now. As a result, space for council and clerks is not explored, coagulation occurs, and the cartel of internal and external job evaluation experts have jailed the post. This does not do justice to the post of clerk, nor to the necessary support for a city council, nor to the interest of the inhabitants for a vital local democracy, ”argues Pruim.
Not enough counterweight
So far, the clerks have failed to build the bridge between the city and the town hall for the council. It has become a register within the town hall. “As a clerk, we offered too little counterbalance. And it turns out that – despite all the great faction visits – that the city councils have let themselves be dragged into the town hall with their work at the town hall. Now that the nationwide discussion is erupting over a different and contemporary style of governance, city councils and clerks must use the resulting space. “Locally open the shutters to others and better connections with society.
Local House for Democracy
The clerks now have the possibility and the task of (re) organizing the local house for democracy. First, there must be a residents’ room or ombuds room. “Participation, consultation or ombudsman issues with council members who are easily accessible to residents fill this chamber. Residents must also have a seat in the control room. “Precisely to develop more qualitative control and less focus on indicators and quantitative data,” explains Pruim.
In the Information Room, the Registrar helps board members get information in the digital age; with a usable and accessible information value to the members of the council. In the labor room, there must be room to put complex topics on the agenda that require a very in-depth and long-term imaging phase. In this room there must be plenty of room for the social partners (of the chain). A regional room must also be set up, while the decision-making room must be refreshed and renewed “if only to accommodate the digital meeting options”. With all these rooms, “there is a house with its doors and windows wide open that invites residents to be active in one of these rooms if they wish.”
There are other tasks awaiting the clerk. They should raise issues that have not been or have barely been discussed so far. “Matters such as the own chairman of the council and the revitalization of the local party (department). Make the usefulness and necessity of national parties a topic of discussion at the local level. The aldermen of the interior of the municipality to prosecute. Enter the barricades to restore autonomy. Fight for your own municipal financial domain. Organize the participation of residents beyond traditional participation and release their knowledge. Apply additional control instruments. “
With this, clerks explore the boundaries of their domain and make room for council members. This is necessary for the revitalization of local representative democracy, so that “councilors can better and more effectively occupy their important place and position”.
Read the full essay by Jan Dirk Pruim in Domestic Administration # 8 this week (login)