That was the local government week that was

Our favourite blogs of the week

Yep, you guessed it: it’s time for our weekly round up of our favourite blog posts from the week.  With so many great posts out there it’s sometimes tough to pick just a few, so if you’ve got some great links to share with us then leave a comment or tweet us (@welovelocalgov) using #localgovblog

We know it was last week, but this piece on some open data apps appeared after our round-up so it’s a bit late.  The Guardian take a look at open data in all its glory:

The Appathon, a marathon for app developers, is a techie testing ground.

The idea was to give UK students some government data to play with, and the results provide yet more evidence that our talent and entrepreneurial flair is alive and flourishing, to match that in Palo Alta.

It is unacceptable that you have not read this yet (unless you have of course, in which case well done) – a simply brilliant transcript of Chris Chant’s thoughts about the way IT in the public sector is done.  Of course, we agree with it all 100%, and appreciate that overall our current setup is not where it should be.

It is unacceptable at this point in time to not know the true cost of a service and the real exit costs from those services: the costs commercially, technically and from a business de-integration standpoint. So, how do we untangle our way out of a particular product or service. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the discussion that says, we need to get away from that, and we can’t because of the complexity of getting out from where we are, and of all the things that are hanging on to that particular service, that we can’t disentangle ourselves from.

Some people are born into the difficult and burdensome world of the ‘posh’, and through this accident of birth end up causing conflict merely by standing in a room, minding their own business.  As this is something some of the WLLG crew have experienced personally (not being posh, but being stereotyped and dealt with as if they were more intimidating than they actually are) we thought it worth bringing to your attention.

The only reason the pulling of rank, the raised eyebrows and the cleverly aimed comments work is because those on the receiving end allow themselves to be wounded by such tactics. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” She was right, of course, but sometimes the sense of social awkwardness runs so deep that a person can give his consent without even realising he has done so, thus laying himself open to the finely-honed eloquence of his tormentor.

This topic was also touched upon by the Stumbling and Mumbling blog

The bottom line here is clear. In a class-divided society, the very notion of meritocracy is incoherent, because merit in the sense of academic achievement or career success might be the product of an overconfidence which is, initially at least, irrational and unjustified.

It may be a little older than a week, and it may not seem like a big topic at first, but Open Data is the topic for Jenna Collins over on the NLGN blog, where she looks at how it might be about a bit more than putting some spreadsheets on a website and declaring success.

Although I am relatively new to the ways and workings of local government, I can’t help but think that the data debate is really quite important and yet, despite immersing myself in all sector related news, white papers, blogs and the twitterati, the consultation seemed to go out not with a bang but rather more a whimper.

And Open Data is also something discussed by Dave Smith, the Chief Exec of Sunderland City Council, who is interested in how we use information to better inform our services and make them fit for 21st century lifestyles.

In fact, we make a whole host of assumptions and broad generalisations based on historical patterns of understanding. The way we provide leisure services has changed very little from the way councils up and down the country would have provided such services to our grandparents, possibly even our great grandparents, despite the fact that the way we keep fit bears little resemblance to how people behaved in the early 20th century.

The same can be said for transport, employment, housing and so on, with many of us living further away from the workplace than we would have two generations ago, working from home, and using mobile technology to help us carry out our jobs.

These changes in behavioural patterns could and should have a huge impact on a whole host of decisions we make. Understanding how our residents want to access services, and what their priorities and needs are, means we can tailor those services accordingly, increasing resident satisfaction and avoiding unnecessary expenditure.

The LGIU actually have two things which have caught our eye; the first is their 2012 Councillor awards (which we strongly recommend you all make some nominations for) and their look at the Education Act, which has flown in under the radar as our collective attention has been grabbed by the Localism Act.

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:

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