Burghers – Gaming local government

Jan 26, 2024

Local government (District, County and Unitary) is now totally broken.

They are now required by central government to do its bidding. Worse, central government ensures that local government cannot fulfil these requirements due to budgetary constraints.

Rather than seek to “fix” local government, Burgher proposes to “game” central government by taking most, if not all, the activities of local government into an autonomous non-statutory body, operates byBurghers who are required to act based on the direction of the Will of the Electorate.
Many of the initiatives below are active across the UK, Cambridgeshire and often right here in Ely. 

However, while coordination can inhibit individual initiatives, having a network, common branding and access to common resources and support, can transform their success. (The success of The Cambridge Network, in transforming the economy of Cambridge City, was down to this model of cooperation.)


Where a task is done by a local government employee, the council has to pay National Insurance, and the employee National Insurance and Income Tax. As a result some 60% of this expenditure goes straight back to central government. As a volunteer, none of this community money goes to central government.

Local Care Tokens - Community Care (Elderly care)

Using a “pay-it-forward” volunteering model, the recently retired and other elderly-well can provide the care for those not so fortunate on a semi-voluntary basis. The elderly in need are allocated “Care Tokens”.  They then give them to their volunteer carers. While there is no requirement, the community expected the care recipient to compensate the community by giving an appropriate legacy to the community. (The number of tokens multiplied by the current minimum wage might be reasonable) . When those who provided that care themselves become in need of care, they can “pay using their “earned” care tokens.
The care token system might be used for other community activities, such as teaching assistants, litter picker and community gardeners.
An example is CAMLETS


When you receive a local government council tax bill, you have to pay this from your already taxed income. If on the other-hand you put that money through a charitable foundation, “Gift Aid” means that income tax is repaid. Your money is immediately increase by around 20%. So demanding that the council does NOT give to local charities, but leaves it to the public is a big win.

Honour Taxes

The Burghers, could send “Honour Tax” demands to every adult in the community of say 40 hours of community service per year. The people can either pay using care tokens or buy them from people who have earned more than they need, or buy them direct from the Burgher. People re encouraged to display a sticker saying they support the community honour tax. (Note, While people can display the sticker without paying the tax, it is unlikely. Even then, the clear message from them that paying the tax is something that they “support”. (By not making the tax obligatory, we avoid the attention of HMRC as a payment in kind that might be taxed)

Housing development and Planning.
Local social housing provision is now done through autonomous housing associations. These unaccountable QUANGOs pay massive salaries to their management, fail to provide a good service to their tenants and typically allocate their vacancies according to national policies (e.g. Asylum seekers)
rather than local housing need.
Using the law on Community Development and Community Land Trusts, communities can not only build the housing the local community needs, but ensure that the benefits go to local people. This can be done without the need to go through the normal local planning system. Organisations such as Resonance Ltd and Allia Ltd can raise the finances needed for these developments through Ethical investment funds.

Community Energy
Community Solar, Wind and Battery Farm to make community both self-sufficient and cheap power. Again, if promoted by the community, the permissions are trivial to get, and the finance is easy.
Even community heat pump facility, such as Swaffham Prior

Banking and debt management
The old local building societies have been asset stripped by “carpetbaggers” long ago. Now, with the national banks withdrawing from retail banking, there is now an opportunity to reboot the Provident movement. Setting up local provident societies means that the community can recycle its cash internally.
With the spread between the interest rate that the public can borrow and that paid to the public being at it’s greatest in history, Provident societies can plainly compete against the bloated traditional banking sector.

Food banks

These are already deployed in many communities, these can be enhanced through...

Community Produce
Allotment holders often have surplus produce, this can be donated to a community produce “shop”. Better would be a community garden, where people work together to grow a wide range of produce for themselves and again the surplus can go to a community produce shop.
People who make stuff as a hobby or part-time activity may also donate or share-sell through the community shop.

Charity Shop
Many town centres have many charity shops run by national charities. (The CEO of Help the Aged took over £300,000 in pay pay last year). Burgher could run a community shop where the income is recycled within the community.

Circular economy
Local Care Tokens, might be used by the community to transact between themselves. Paying tradesmen, or even buying (some) groceries and other services, (community energy). These may allow less of the local productivity going to central government through taxes etc.


Dispute resolution

With the cost and delay of going to the law now prohibitive for the ordinary citizen. The Burgher could provide a simple rapid dispute resolution system, based on restricted argument ( One side of A4 per £100 of claim for each party?) With the decision going to a “public poll”.

While the decision is not legally binding, a party that does not consent to the decision is barred from using the system again (with some caveats)

Opt-in or Opt-out
With no statutory power, there is no means that Burghers can compel citizens to support them in the mission. In order to ensure a stable system, there needs to be some negative feedback in the Burgher system. To this end, where services are directed to an individual, citizens who have contributed to the Burghers mission are given priority over those who have failed to contribute, and those who have opposed the Burghers mission should not enjoy any Burgher provided services.

Law enforcement

The Burghers can collect and correlate and communicate reports of anti-social behaviour. This is already done by Neighbourhood Watch, public houses who impose town-wide bans on certain disruptive individuals and to a lesser extent to shop-lifters.

Work in progress....updated Jan 24th 2024
©P Dawe 2024

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