Review of the year
It is coming to the end of the year and the WeLoveLocalGovernment team are planning to take a well earned break between now and the New Year (don’t worry though; we’ve planned some little surprises to keep you entertained throughout the festive period).
And as the end of the year is coming it seemed appropriate to take stock of the year that has been, both for us and for local government. So, in true top of the pops style here follows, in no particular order, our top ten reflections on the year:
1) It would be hard to look past the Comprehensive Spending Review as the single most important moment for local government this year. In our opinion the spending cuts were, and still are, a big opportunity for local government. However, in the short term they have led to rushed decisions and the redundancy of a lot of staff who in any other circumstances local government would be nuts to let go.
2) As a blog site nothing was more exciting than our debut writing on the Guardian website; although our post on radical Chief Executives could be politely described as somewhat controversial. Nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoyed writing the blog and took a certain pleasure in provoking a little bit of controversy; derived straight from the front line.
3) All of us found ourselves facing redundancy, for some we were facing it for the first time in our lives. I don’t think any of us would describe ourselves as particularly naive and we knew what was coming. However, the way it happened, the effect it had on previously reasonable colleagues and the trouble many Local Authorities had at making the whole thing stick was beyond our worst expectations or fears.
4) There was a refreshing bout of radicalism in Local Government. Shared services, merged councils, outsourcing, new forms of income generation, community ownership of assets, cloud computing, radical methods of service provision and a variety of ideas of how to implement the Big Society all have potential and pitfalls. Some of these have been around for years but some are new and the pressure of the cuts is meaning councils are looking to do more quicker. It’s not all working but the fact council’s are willing to try these things suggests that the fear of risk is declining.
5) All of us realised that writing an anonymous blog is more difficult than it seems; simply because keeping it anonymous is tough work. Many people would say that we should simply take our mask off and stop being anonymous. We’ve talked about this a lot and rather than simply taking the easy option we decided to justify our anonymity.
6) The General Election was largely missed by this blog; coming as it did during our brief interregnum but nonetheless the election campaign debates were a true revelation… If not for the content of the debates (which never mentioned local government) but for the brilliance of the twitter commentary that went with it.
8) One post about journalism and the Freedom of Information Act seemed to excite all sorts of interest and led to a rather lengthy debate amongst journalists who believed that we had called them all lazy.
9) As we managed to build readers a number of other local government people offered up suggestions for pieces they would like to write. Quite frankly, they were often better than we were so it was a pleasure to post pieces as diverse as a discussion of performance indicators, George Osborne’s Child Benefit changes and the salami slice. We hope to see many more in the New Year.
10) We had the opportunity to read many new and interesting blogs on the public sector; it is hard to pick one out of the many but the wonderful redundant public servant blog captured the feelings and frustrations of those of us unfortunately facing the human cost of the arguably necessary public sector cuts.