Here at We Love Local Government Towers we are pretty proud of all we have achieved so far. Since we started blogging in 2009 we’ve racked up 320 posts, and with our limited monitoring capacity think have had at least 80,000 hits (although with each Council IP address counting as one hit we reckon the real figure may be just a tad higher).
We’ve been honoured to have written for the Guardian’s Local Government Network, have been featured in their Society Daily update a few times and were even named on the LGC list of ‘most influential organisations in local government’. This last one particularly humbled us, as it was decided on by a panel of judges we really respect and came entirely out of the blue.
We’ve also been name checked and syndicated by an ever increasing number of blogs, aggregators and even a few proper journalists, who sometimes agree with our posts but just as often don’t.
As time goes on and the number of new readers goes up, we thought it might be high time to briefly revisit who we are and what we do.
To understand the present it’s worth going back to the past, to the very first days of this blog. Set up after a few conversations in corridors, its very first post poked fun at the rigmarole surrounding the introduction of a new walking club. Back then posts were limited to at most a couple per week, and covered some of the more light-hearted or bizarre occurrences the first few bloggers faced.
After a brief hiatus, the blog returned stronger than ever towards the end of summer 2010, when we moved towards daily posting and started sharing our thoughts on some of the wider issues facing local government, in addition to those things which still made us double take. We began receiving more regular contributions as some new bloggers joined the team, and more and more great guest blog articles, some of which are both our most popular posts and among our own personal favourites.
We also started linking in with some other brilliant blogs which were making themselves known, such as Fighting Monsters, Flipchart Fairytales and the now defunct Redundant Public Servant. There were many more as well, and something of a local government/public sector blogging community began to come into being.
Inspired by the brilliant RPS we then dipped a toe into the wide world of Twitter, not sure how to use it but willing to give it a go. Over 3000 tweets and 1600 followers later and we’re still not totally sure how to use it, but are enjoying finding out. In summary, it’s been quite a journey.
All this covers how we got to where we are today, but doesn’t really go into what we are all about. In recent times we’ve come across some comments which don’t entirely understand our intentions. Some see this blog as a Machiavellian attempt to dictate the thought processes of local government officers, others see it as setting out the thoughts of those who are willing to climb over anyone on their way to the top.
We tend to respectfully disagree.
Local government is a many faceted and nuanced beast which has never been more in the public eye. The sheer scope of services it offers is mind boggling, and the responsibility to deliver effective services is huge. Residents demand ever increasing support with no room for human error, whilst central government demands more is delivered with fewer resources.
The (for want of a better phrase) stable of main blog contributors are an equally mixed bunch. Some are just beginning their life within the walls of local government, finding their way around the various meetings and routes to get things done and retaining a sense of wonder about their surroundings. Some have been involved for some time, and have a dangerous level of knowledge; enough to know what problems exist but not enough to provide simple solutions. Others have been there, seen it and can shake their heads sagely at the folly of their peers.
We Love Local Government has no grand plan or agenda (or at least none that this particular blogger is aware of and privy to) other than to say why we do; it is not intending to change the world overnight, nor is it trying to topple governments from within. It is not a tool for its contributors to use to get ahead in their careers, which would itself be somewhat difficult due its anonymous nature.
Instead, it is simply a place for a group of local government officers to come together to discuss their own ideas and opinions of any issue – big or small – which affects local government. It makes no promises to comment on any particular topic in the public eye, nor does it promise to toe a corporate line. We will not criticise for criticisms sake, and steer firmly away from pushing the party line of any political party. Where big P politics affect local government then we may comment, but with as close to an independent eye as possible. We will also not always agree with ourselves; with such a varied group of writers, different opinions are inevitable, and with no controlling editor we need not provide any degree of group-think. That being said, often we do agree, although that’s never stopped us from playing Devils Advocate!
We all genuinely believe that local government plays a vital and underappreciated role in the fabric of a society we all hold so dear. It is not always perfect, it is not infallible and it doesn’t always make sense, but is packed full of people who day in, day out do their very best to make the communities around them a better place. Without local government, things would get very difficult very quickly, and the fact that for many local government is invisible bears testament to how smoothly most of it runs. People hear about the instances when things go wrong; we think it’s worth pointing out some of the things which also go right.
If our collective words influence you one way or another then we are happy; it means you have read them and thought about what we are trying to say. We do not require you to agree with us: some of the most interesting discussions we have had on the blog and Twitter have been where we have disagreed (indeed, we have even written about the benefits of creative conflict), and they often go on to inspire further posts and comment from us.
In fact, any comments we receive from readers put smiles on our faces, even if these are swiftly followed by frowns. That some take the time to comment on our posts is humbling indeed, and great motivation to continue no matter how difficult it can be at times. We write posts for this blog in our own spare time, using time otherwise set aside to spend with families and friends to instead come up with groups of words which might interest each other and our readers to some extent. We don’t do this out of a sense of duty, nor for your thanks and adulations (although the latter is of course always welcome), we do this because we enjoy it. None of us are trained journalists or writers, none of us have access to additional resources, all of us simply find pleasure in putting fingertips to keyboards and seeing where things take us.
So thank you for reading this post and others, for leaving comments below them, for retweeting or sharing them, for backing us up or telling us we are wrong, and sometimes for providing guest posts for us to enjoy.
When we started writing this blog we had three readers, two of which wrote it. We wrote it for ourselves and to share some thoughts with the world. Unless something significant changes, this is what we will continue to do, and we hope you continue to enjoy reading it.
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:firstname.lastname@example.org