From the Vaults
Yesterday we shared some of our very favourite blogs out there, which between them cover a massive range of areas and focuses from so many angles and in so many different styles that we enjoy the struggle to keep up.
All this got us thinking about blogging in general, and some of the posts between us we ourselves have unleashed upon the world over the last few years. Some of these have been good, others not quite so good, but overall we’re fairly satisfied with the overwhelming majority of our outpouring of thoughts and theories. With that in mind, and to round off our introspective series with a retrospective and nostalgic post, here’s our own personal, non-scientific and entirely subjective pick of the We Love Local Government blog. If you’ve got any personal favourites we’ve missed we really would love to hear what they are, if not then why not take a look at some of these and see how the blog grew from humble beginnings to where we stand today.
In the beginning…
It was way back in 2009 when we decided that some other people may enjoy some of the things we spoke about, so proceeded to set up this very blog and post up our first ever post, ‘How to walk in three easy steps‘. This first toe-dip into the water made us smile enough to continue, so before too long we had added to it. When we found out that we weren’t allowed to walk up the stairs we’ll admit to double taking, and when Christmas time rolled around we explored some of the health and safety implications it entailed. And it was good.
It was 2010 when we decided to help the world to Meet Dave (no, not that one), and he soon became a recurring presence over the years. 2010 was also the year when we first featured a sort-of guest post, when one of our colleagues forwarded on an e-mail protocol that seemed just a tad on the over-the-top side not to share.
Having focussed up until that point on rather more minor issues, at this point in our evolution we made a small but important step by starting to think a little beyond the boundaries of our office with this initial look at shared services. Of course we still delivered some more lighthearted messages (such as when a resident made a Members Enquiry in order to get some pigeons off their veranda), but this balance was one which soon became the norm for us.
It was one of the more lighthearted posts which began to prompt people who didn’t know us to start reading – a simple little post entitled “You know you’ve worked in local government too long when…” went around the office and was also picked up by the Guardian (some of the comments on there are worthy of inclusion!). Soon after we went against the then-current grain and didn’t get upset when the Audit Commission went away, and we started seeing some silver lining appearing in the growing economic crisis facing local government.
Of graduates and jargon
The NGDP scheme was always an area close to our hearts, and over the past few years we’ve covered it from a number of angles. To begin with, we began by asking where graduates might be able to find employment in local government, before taking a look at the graduates in question through two different pieces. We think graduates are a good thing by the way, even if sometimes we rant about some of them! We even tried to offer some advice to those who are new to local government, although it’s as true for anyone as it is for graduates.
Jargon and Councilese has always been something we are interested in, starting way back with our first pick of the litter. Do you even remember when the word ‘efficiency‘ wasn’t intrinsically linked to ‘cuts’? We’ve also tried to reveal some of the secrets of local government language (slightly tongue in cheek perhaps, but perhaps not far off the mark), as well as starting the biggest game of bingo in local government history. That being said, sometimes having a strategy is a good idea, as long as you don’t just have it criticised of course…
It’s not been easy being a public servant, and we’ve been attacked by the media on a regular basis. Whether it’s Panorama making comparisons with the pay of the PM, Channel 4 on sickness levels, the TPA on senior staff or ITV just having a go at us for, well, not much really, frankly we deserve more. We also expected a bit of backlash when we had a pop at lazy journalists, going so far as to name our top three FOI-ers, but happily it was the good ones who actually read it and seemed to agree.
And it’s not just the media which we like to have a good rant about either. When a ‘colleague’ took credit for another’s work we felt justified in making a point, although it didn’t appear to get through as we had to return to them later. Even our DCLG masters have felt content to stick their boot in, from Grant Shapps to Eric Pickles himself. We don’t always disagree with Mr Pickles however, and will pay him his dues when we think he’s got something right.
Localism and the cuts
It would have been wrong of us to not share our thoughts on Localism, which we started to do by declaring that it’ll only ever work when people accept that some areas will be different to others; seems a little obvious to us, but not to others perhaps. Of course it always helps to have a good benchmark to measure against. Local approaches to other things have borne fruit, not least the local approach to the big clean up after the riots, which showed all that is good in our communities.
The cuts have had a monumental effect on us all but have been reacted to in different ways. Some, such as children’s services, declared that they couldn’t be cut for reasons as grand as ‘a child might die‘, whilst some individuals have considered how the whole situation affected them mentally and emotionally. It’s also not easy when the focus of the cuts has been local whilst the debate has stayed national – shouldn’t people be thinking of us and the challenges we face a little more? However, our favourite analogy of the situation remains a guest post comparing local government to life on the high seas.
Some of our blogging team moved around and shared their stories. Whether writing about feelings of survivors guilt, concerns over one guest-blogger’s feeling that they have a non-job (whatever they are) and another’s lack of really caring about their job (despite doing it very well), telling your job that you are leaving them or the live blogging final-day-in-the-life-of post, we’ve been through the mill and will no doubt do so again. We’ve even begun wondering whether or not we’ve reached the glass bottleneck, and whether actually we needed to find some sort of specialism if we were to have any chance of moving on. Of course, sometimes you find yourself thinking actually, perhaps I do need a new job, especially when your boss asks you to handwrite their notes for them…
Another area we’ve had particular interest in has been around ICT. Social media has been a regular topic of conversation, although sometimes we concentrate on things somewhat more mundane such as our propensity for demanding constantly changing and complex passwords for our multiple systems. We’ve attacked intranets and proposed i-pads for councillors, and discussed whether or not we should be happy blurring the working lines through regular updates.
As we said above, Christmas time is always a lot of fun, and we managed to have some with a little caroling wordplay (and a bit more for good luck)and some local government jokes. We nabbed Eric Pickles Christmas letter to Santa, mused on what to buy for colleagues through your secret Santa process
At the end of the day, this blog is all about the good things in local government. Whether it’s sharing a little appreciation for some undervalued colleagues such as accountants, saying all of the things we love about local government or that our friends love, celebrating our own successes or our failures we’ve always tried to have something to say. Sometimes things have gone wrong. Sometimes we’ve written things and found that not everyone always agrees with us, especially when it’s a tough situation, but that’s fine; as long as the discussions are being had we’re happy enough. And of course, should our own big idea – of a day/week celebrating all that is local government – ever come to pass then we will be happy that our hard work is paying off
And finally, here are a few of our favourite random funny posts, for no real reason other than because we like them.
- Dear John (and it’s companion, via Hansel and Gretel)
- Five people I’d like to see working at the Council
- Councils are people too
- How to stifle creativity in local government
- Delusions of Grandeur
- Local Government Haiku
- It’s always the case
- Chief Personality Traits
- Ode to Local Government
- 35 things I’m giving up for lent
- The devil’s guide to getting ahead
- 10 signs your organisation needs to innovate Parts 1 and 2)
- Me and My CC Army
- So you’re having a project?
- Election Day in the Jungle
- The Local Government Bucket List
- The absurdity that is Flexitime
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