AND so farewell to Lester Posner, who has left us to be a spin doctor working for Stephen Byers in the Department of Transport or as Lester described it, 'objective civil servant'.

Why do people who go into newspaper work, fired up to find things out and fearlessly tell people about them, take themselves off after a few years to work for politicians who are not keen on telling anyone anything until it suits them and then only what suits them?

I only ask.

Anyway Lester has bequeathed me this column, so farewell to him. I just hope he remembers when we ring him up at the Department of Transport that we want the facts - and we want them now.

And now for local politics. The county council's cabinet celebrated its first birthday last week. No cake or candles, because they can't afford it and anyway they are not yet in a position to celebrate anything.

The change to cabinet government was imposed on all councils by the government and not particularly welcomed. The idea is to make councillors more accountable, but we have ALWAYS been able to kick them out every four years.

The main problems so far have been lack of fiery debate and cross questioning and lack of productive things for backbenchers to do. Surely they don't want just to be glorified social workers.

But things are looking up a bit on one front. One of Wycombe District Council's scrutiny committees had a good old go about the budget and sent several proposals back to the cabinet to reconsider. Then last week's county council meeting got quite lively for an hour while Labour leader Trevor Fowler had a go at the Conservatives and everyone piled in on both sides. We could do with more of that. And the next day the county cabinet really talked about its financial problems, with documentary evidence to back them up.

Talking of accountability, I am a bit concerned about two new things. Local Learning and Skills Council have been set up up by the government to run post-16 education, which effectively removes sixth forms from the LEA and hands them over to a non-elected quango.

How will we find out what the local LSC is doing and how do we kick its members out if we don't like it?

The other thing looming is the prospect of elected regional assemblies replacing either county or district councils. We would be part of the south east region. What's local about that?

And how do Wycombe people find out what is going on when meetings could be held in Kent?