Tag Archives: local councils

Blessed are the Place-makers

Whose place is it anyway?

I’ve long puzzled over the phrase, ‘knowing your place’ – most frequently deployed to (uh oh, here’s another) ‘put someone in their place’.

Both express a need to assume some authority over those who should be ‘put back in their box’ whilst those in command carry on being commanding despite inconvenient ‘un-called for’ reports.

Having long retired from what was then a deeply hierarchical organisation modelled on the military (and one that struggled with innovation), I now much prefer the delight of locally talented pools of people who really do know their places and appreciate their habitats in fine detail.  Between them, they also know a thing or three about almost any specialist topic you’d care to mention.  This Community Capacity – the resident energy source that sustains the places we inhabit – can be seen as a great asset or an annoyance, but either way it cannot be ignored.  Community Capacity plays a significant role in explaining why some places thrive whilst others decline.

There is no doubt that Council Officers are a dedicated bunch, loyally devoted to their chosen areas of expertise.  Nursing a community can be as much a vocation as, well, nursing.  There’s also no doubt that they labour under the constraints of dwindling resources and edicts handed down by higher command – moderated or amplified by the local governors, elected Councillors.  But the central high command sees only averages with little contextual awareness of the real place-makers or the expertise and wisdom embedded in each community.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 1 Comment

Government tells councils they must meet in public after May local elections – that is neither practical nor safe

Local councils have been meeting online during the pandemic. After a few teething problems, the practice of meeting online has worked well. But yesterday the government declared councils must meet in public after 7 May. Many councillors think this is too early. A good many councils, including Ludlow Town Council and Shropshire Council, do not have suitable buildings to accommodate all their councillors, let alone members of the public, while social distancing remains in place.

Vaccination is under way but having kept myself safe for a year, I think this is too risky. Up to 74 councillors and at least 25 officers and public attend Shropshire’s unitary council in a chamber set out like a university lecture hall. My local town council meets in a cheek by jowl Guildhall that is socially cramped. The parish council I chair had 30 people at one online meeting recently. There is nowhere in the parish big enough for a meeting that size even in normal times.

This is retrograde move that will reduce the effectiveness of local democracy. Not for once, ministers are out of touch with reality.

Posted in Op-eds | 15 Comments

Opinion: Tough Choices – Yes, but local politicians must grasp opportunities as well as challenges

Sheffield Town HallI doubt that there are many councillors who are unaware of the scale of the country’s financial difficulties. Yet whatever your prescription for resuscitating the British economy, politicians of all parties agree that reducing the deficit is a crucial piece in the puzzle.

Regardless of your views on the Government’s strategy, it is clear that reductions in council budgets are a reality. The challenge for councillors is to best adjust to the new climate and mitigate the impact on the services that people care about most.

I do not believe that the way forward is to abandon all council services, leaving local government as a sole provider of social care. Rather, local government should be taking the lead in innovative ways of thinking – taking bold steps to cut waste, not just services.

Posted in Local government and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 4 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • Peter Martin
    @ Joe, The r-g relationship was the main thing I remember from reading Piketty's book Capital. I can imagine Warren Mosler saying something like: "So what if...
  • Brad Barrows
    The crux of the issue is to get a clear answer to the question ‘whose responsibility is it to pay for the social care costs of (mainly) elderly people who are...
  • Matt Wardman
    @SimonR I'm not clear how you boost the flow through the same pipes without boosting the pressure. But I have not revisited my gas laws from O level for t...
  • Jenny Barnes
    I don't understand why the oil consuming countries are so reluctant to increase taxes on road and aviation fuel. Many of the ME suppliers can produce oil at a ...
  • Joe Bourke
    Peter Martin, Yes, that should be the 21st Century and the cumulative deficits from 1999-2000 to date. The economist had a good article on debt dynamics in ...