We’ve had an idea…
If we’ve said it once we’ve said it loads of times: everybody loves an arbitrary milestone. We here at WLLG Towers are no exception to this rule, and way back in the dark and distant past (well, October last year anyway) we celebrated breaking the 100,000 hits barrier by asking some of our favourite local government types to tell us why they too love local government.
Well, we’ve just sailed past the 200,000 barrier with barely a glance over our shoulders, so it’s high time we celebrated another marker along the way with something a little different. An e-mail which began with the words “I’ve had an idea…” started winging its way between us, and we thought we should share it with you as we think it’s got legs. Short, stumpy legs perhaps, but legs nonetheless.
Local government has a rough deal. We do more things than most give us credit for, better than most know and all without much in the way of reward past job satisfaction. We do all we do for pride and for the local people we serve. We would say this is a noble endeavour, and worthy of wider recognition and – perhaps – even appreciation.
With this in mind, we’d like to propose that we take the route of so many other issues and entities out there, and declare an arbitrary day or week as ‘Local Government Day/Week’.
Obviously there are many things to consider before we get started with actually making this happen, not least of which is finding enough people who would help champion it, but as far as we can tell there is actually nothing stopping us in the public sector making this declaration and then making it happen.
Step one involves agreeing a date for our celebrations. Having spent some time looking through the archives (well, Google…) there are precious few dates which have any significant meaning for local government. However, our eyes did fall heavily on the Local Government act of 1972 – the act which laid the basis for local government as we know it today. Yes, it may have been heavily amended and superseded, but its role was pivotal in the development of local government.
It may have come into force on 1 April (not exactly a date for us to hijack, as any fool knows…), but we noticed that it actually received royal assent on 26 October. What with us all waving our patriotic flags still after our recent jubilee celebrations, anything connected with royalty can only be a good sign so unless anyone has any better suggestions we’d suggest that 26 October (or the week this is contained within) becomes the centre of our plans.
Next is to make an argument as to why anyone should give a damn about taking part, especially when we’ve all got other things to be getting on with and no money to waste.
Well, we’d hope that those who might be reading this may just be able to make such an argument for themselves. Local government and all of the services which make it up are a fundamental part of our society, and go unappreciated through most of the year. With cuts aplenty, morale at a low point, pensions being raided and attacks on public servants from left right and centre, isn’t it about time we stood up for ourselves and declared our pride for our jobs and the services we deliver? Isn’t it also the opportunity to remind the world of our efforts, and give them the chance to realise that councils are organisations run by real people (Councillors and officers), who invariably want to do their best to make the places we live better places?
As for how much this will cost, the answer is simply how long is a piece of string? For those authorities who want to go big there could be videos produced to tell people about the work of the council, events held to bring stakeholders together or internal award ceremonies to reward staff for their hard work. For those of us less able to commit too much, a simple press release and a thank you e-mail to staff might suffice.
And for our readers who aren’t part of local government directly but perhaps are part of the media, why not arrange for some coverage of our work which is positive? A coordinated series of local radio interviews, local newspaper features, national newspaper articles or website content would encourage the public to perhaps think a little more positively when considering the efforts we go to. We would really need some support and help to pull this off, so any offers, big or small, would prove that others out there thought as we did and were proud of the work we do.
At the end of the day, taking part is something which every council could do simply by agreeing that they are doing so. Whether you schedule activities from 22 October onwards, culminating in a grand finale on 26 October, or whether you stick with minimal input and only programme in some fun for the Friday, all it takes is a few interested officers and a little imagination.
Interested? Then tweet us to tell us your ideas or leave them in the comments below. Let’s say it loud and proud – we really do love local government, for all its foibles, and so should the world!
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