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The features of the Conciliar type of Local Government

The Conciliar system of local government originates from Britain. It is a three-tier (level) system. At the top is the County Councils, best suited for big cities like London. At the middle level, there is the District Councils and a third tier made up of parish meetings, suited mainly for rural or village areas.

The Councillors are elected by the people through the ballot box. The election may or may not be contested on party political lines. The elected Councillors have four-year tenure of office.

Reliance on committee
The Conciliar system relies heavily on committees. Every Council has the power to appoint committees, and in most cases, all important matters that come before the full council are first discussed by a committee.

Legislative dominance
Under the Conciliar system of local government, for a local authority to exercise any function, those functions must be specifically vested in it by a parliamentary statute. In other words, the council derives its power directly from the legislature. The legislature dominates the local council.

Use of Aldermen
The Conciliar system makes use of Aldermen. Aldermen are people who are elected by Councillors into the council. Some retired Councillors, who are unable to stand for Local Council elections, are elected by the Councillors as aldermen.

Principle of co-option
The Conciliar system also rests on the principle off co-option. That is, all local councils can appoint people from the public who            are not council members to serve on Council Committees.

Election of Ceremonial Mayor
Every council elects a ceremonial Mayor or chairman to preside over council meetings. The Mayor may be elected from within or outside the Council. The Mayor serves a one-year term and is subject to re-election.

Each of the tiers is independent of the other. For example, the County Councils do not have any powers over the district countries. Each of the three units has a direct link with the central government.

Experience of Aldermen
The use of aldermen enables the councils to enjoy the experiences and services of past Councillors who had served with distinction.

Reduction of workload
The Local Council is relieved of much of its workload. This is as the result of the use of the Committees system.

It is democratic
Since the Councillors are elected directly by the people, it can be described as democratic. Through Council elections, democracy is brought to the doorsteps of the individual.

Choice of good representatives
The Conciliar type of local government, being representative helps those at the grassroots to choose good people to represent them.

Dangers of partisanship at the local level
The Conciliar type of local government allows election on party lines. This introduces the dangers of party politics into local government, such as rancour and divisiveness.

The system where some members of the Council are co-opted means that the electors do not directly elect them and therefore they are not accountable to the local voters.

Co-option as a consolation
Co-option into the Council is a form of consolation to people who was defeated at council elections and not based on experience or expertise. It is often people who are rejected by the voters who are accepted as co-opted members.

Position of Aldermen opposes the will of some people
Aspiring Council members, who are rejected by the voters in council an election may be recruited as aldermen. This means their position as aldermen is contrary to the desire of the voters.

Weaknesses of the Committee system
a. Issues go through the committees without much scrutiny.
b. The division of a council’s work among various committees often raises the problem of efficient coordination of the activities of the committees;
c. The committee system also encourages irresponsibility in the sense that the committee members are collectively (not individually) responsible for the decisions of the committee.

1. a. How does the Concilliar system of Local Government work?
    b. Highlight five features of the Conciliar system of local government.

2. Highlight three advantages and three disadvantages of the Concilliar system of local government.

3. a. Describe the Conciliar system of local government.
   b. Give five reasons why some countries find it difficult to practice the Conciliar system of local government.
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