Interesting comments, although I don't altogether agree. I have been a town councillor since 2010, and I wouldn't accept that we don't make tough financial decisions. In fact, along with a group of like minded councillors, when first elected I pressed for a budget and precept around 20% lower than the figures put forward by the then town clerk. It was agreed, and since 2010, bearing in mind the financial environment in which our citizens have to live, we have progressively made further small reductions. That included accommodating the change in calculation of the precept which meant that the town council effectively paid a share of the council tax benefit. Although figures fluctuate substantially and expenditure is inclined to be quite lumpy, we do take considerable care to review the budget each year prior to setting the precept. We don't have any vague reserves, they cover things like the cemetery (as mentioned before) and a fully costed programme of replacement of obsolete streetlights. We also provide specific reserves for clearly identified hazards that could affect the council's assets. The figures we use for all these financial considerations are shown in documents that are considered in meetings of the finance committee, and all supporting documents (such as these) for meetings of the council or its committees are provided on the council web site, shown as links from the relevant agenda. There are no secrets, apart from the few items that have to be kept confidential, such as personal information relating to the clerk, or (in the past) documents relating to an ongoing legal dispute. We rarely exclude the public from meetings, and then only when strictly necessary. So I wouldn't accept that most local councils operate as a secret club. It is true that the only final sanction that citizens have at their disposal is the periodic election. But where there are significant problems, public opinion can certainly put pressure on councillors, and I have experienced this leading to resignations. While I have been involved, the auditors have certainly asked questions that go beyond what is lawful, including asking for an explanation of the size of the reserves. Where a council is not operating to high standards, the only real answer is for dissatisfied citizens to put themselves forward as candidates and to mobilise opinion. Local council democracy can be a valuable asset to local life, but it does require voluntary effort. A community that makes the effort should be able to have a local council that does not have the deficiencies you describe. All the tools are there for you to use to achieve a vibrant local democracy.