The council fridge


Room for all sorts of freshly chilled metaphors

A friend of mine recently moved jobs. When I asked him how it was going his answer was fairly simple:

‘You should see how horrible their fridge is!’

It was an odd observation but now I have thought about it I think you can genuinely tell a lot about a team by the quality of their fridge.

Here are the similarities between a council and their fridge:

1)    We all work in silos

If ever there was evidence of silo working it’s the council fridge. Open the average fridge and you’ll find at least three or four bottles of milk, and nearly all of them will have black marker scrawled over them detailing the exact team who ‘owns’ that milk. And on Friday the poor old cleaner will end up having to throw away four three quarter used bottles of milk.

Why don’t people work together to share the milk? Why don’t people work together to solve other wider problems? It’s simple really, ‘I bought ‘have the budget’ for the milk ‘service’, we need the milk ‘service’ and those tight accountants will keep stealing it unless we make it clear who owns the milk ‘budget’… Or something like that.

2)    We love to hoard

Spending some time going through the average local government fridge will turn up some surprising items. Every week, our fridge gets cleared out and all sorts of rotting food comes pouring out. However, it’s not the food that makes me laugh; anyone can forget about the odd banana or (less so) cream cake.

But why is there a bottle of wine in there that is at least ten months old? Who brought it in the first place? Who had one glass out of it and then left it in the fridge door? Why didn’t they take it home? Would it be wrong to have a glass on one of those awful days we sometimes have?

The same applies to almost every part of the council. I’ve seen whole cupboards that have been untouched for a few years due to the fact no-one knows what’s in there. I’ve found a stockpile of floppy disks in one team and a set of Children’s Services’ plans from 1999 in another. Local Government; we love to hoard.

3)    Work is an important part of our life

The average work fridge will have loads of bags from the local supermarket. People will pop to the shops on the way to work or grab some quick groceries in their lunch-break. The food will then get stored in the fridge until home-time.

The same applies to the rest of the working day. We all bring our home-life to work and hope to store it somewhere whilst we get on with serving the public. It’s not always possible to totally keep it out of the way but having a way of keeping it stored away until home-time is valuable to both the council and the employee.

Tenuous fridge based analogy over!

Welovelocalgovernment is a blog written by UK local government officers. If you have a piece you’d like to submit or any comments you’d like to make please drop us a line at: welovelocalgovernment@gmail.com

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3 Comments on “The council fridge”

  1. Louise Says:

    Amusing! I’m tempted to be smug and say that our two fridges (it’s a big office) positively gleam, and our milk is communal. How do we achieve this? A benign dictatorship in which the people with a mildly OCD-ish approach to hygiene and running the tea club kitty are allowed free rein to a) chuck out the old stuff, b) buy the milk and biscuits. Alas I fear that this won’t be adopted any time soon in local government… although through economies of scale we do manage to provide everyone with as much tea, coffee, herbal tea and biscuits as they can consume for £1.20 per head per week.


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