That was the local government week that was

Goodbye to a mild January, hello to a wintry February!  While local government has been working to cope with the snow, other work has not sat still.  Here’s our round-up of some of our favourite blog posts of the week.  If you’ve got others you think we’ve missed, tweet us @welovelocalgov or share it in the comments below.

Coming hot on the heels of our own post looking at local government websites comes this thought provoking post from Ben Welby, in which he talks about the possible implications of the recently launched website.  We are cautiously excited about the possible options ahead of us, and Mr Welby puts this across across perfectly.

And it’s all happening in the open. Since before the launch of AlphaGov there has been a steady flow of information covering the wider strategy for how the Government Digital Service imagines the future to look. The code is open source and therefore freely available, fixes are being contributed by the public and the beta is changing on a dailybasis. They’re up front about what’s not there (yet) but they’re equally clear that gaps will be plugged as and when they get there.

If ever you were to believe hype, I’d say this would be the moment.

Some of the WLLG crew have got in trouble in the past for constantly asking ‘why not’ rather than ‘why’ when an idea for a new project comes up; depending on the situation, either question bears asking.  However, the ever inspiring @helreynolds of Monmouthshire fame has popped something on the always interesting comms2point0 blog post asking a different question altogether; ‘what if…’

 We have instilled an ethos that work is not somewhere you go, but something you do. Managers can’t control every move of each employee. They manage work programmes and if a person gets their job done brilliantly but takes a break to look at Facebook once in a while, that is fine. A member of staff elsewhere who sits at their own desk all day may well look busy but be on Facebook on their own phone.

The reality is that a great employee will do good work no matter what and a demotivated member of staff can waste time in all sorts of ways.

Couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

It’s something we’ve spoken about for a while now, and it looks like we’re not alone.  According to Liam Maxwell when he spoke with The Guardian, long term ICT contracts could soon be a thing of the past, and for what it’s worth we can’t see this happening soon enough.

 The G-Cloud could see government procurement move away from its traditional model, whereby contracts are signed for periods of several years and then extended.

“I don’t think we’ll be seeing many contracts in the cloud services are that are beyond 12 months,” he told the Cloud Expo conference in London.

“That’s a massive step change,” he added.

 Jonathan Carr-West this week wrote a piece on the LGIU blog which took the current situation we find ourselves in collectively and actually spun it on its head; despite all of the challenges, could this actually be the year in which local government takes over?

2012 is also the year in which much of the government’s localist legislation comes home to roost. Councils will acquire a power of general competence that turns upside down the statutory basis on which they operate. Communities will acquire new powers over planning in their neighbourhoods, will be able to challenge councils’ delivery of services and bid to take over assets of community value. Some fear that these reforms will be a bit of a damp squib, but whether or not they’re used at any scale they do appear to transfer control of the debate about public service delivery away from Whitehall and the town hall and place it in the hands of local people.

Yes, we may collectively be unashamed optimists, but we happen to think he may just be right.

Okay, okay, so we’ve already posted a link to one of Helen Reynold’s blog posts today, but we couldn’t not link to this one as well.  We revel in making honest mistakes, so Helen’s comments ring true with us.

If you make a mistake – well done. It might be a cliché but making mistakes is the best way to improve.

You want to make lots of little mistakes. Being great is like building muscle: if you want your muscle grow, you should give it stress in the gym, create a small amount of damage to it, then you should provide it with everything it needs to recover and grow – which is time and food.

When you make small mistakes on social media you need to sort it out and work out how you can stop it happening again – recover and grow.  This will make your social media presence rock – you’ll be working from your own experience and not blindly following other people’s advice.  You know your business like nobody else, learn what’s right for you by doing it your own way

And a final link this week to the Guardian, who share a few very interesting stats on how councils use social media, and ask the question if it’s an opportunity or a threat.

The research shows that social media works best if supported by traditional media channels, creating conversations that provide an emotional connection. But a return on this investment will only be fulfilled if social media is incorporated into the communications mix.

Local government PR professionals need to set aside their fears and embrace social media. My advice is to experiment: make mistakes, learn, and improve. Only then can local government fully capitalise on the potential opportunities social media provides.

Social media is not a fad, it is here to stay. The only threat is to those who do not adapt.

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

Explore posts in the same categories: The future of Local Govt, We love the Council

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One Comment on “That was the local government week that was”

  1. “work is not somewhere you go, but something you do”

    hear hear! In my last job I’d sometimes spend time wandering at random across the Internet just to let my brain cool down after a chunk of work. Other people wander out into the car park and have a ciggie. Some people make a cup of tea, put their brain in neutral and do some random browsing. And, shock horror, you may even incidently improve your information gathering and research skills while doing it.

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