Posted tagged ‘criticism’

Fingers in our ears

September 7, 2011

Constructive criticism isn't found in the sand

We’ve all heard people criticising the council before. Whether it’s been through corporate complaints and members enquiries, through standing behind someone in a queue at a Council office or even just sitting at home listening to a friend or family member maon about the potholes in the road; criticism is everywhere.

This also isn’t restricted to ‘real world’ settings. Increasingly people are criticising councils digitally, through e-mails, Facebook postings and groups, Twitter, forums and other online spaces, people more than ever are telling us and the rest of the world what they think.

So what do we do with all this valuable feedback? Do we thank them for this information, even if it’s usually negative, and go about righting wrongs where possible and explaining our positions when not? Do we collect it all and analyse it in a darkened room, adding it to reams of resident survey findings and referring to it in reports?

Or do we pointedly ignore it, refusing to do anything unless prompted to directly and making sure that no online space provided by us has anything other than positive news on it?

I’ll give you one guess.

The overwhelming majority of councils in the experience of this blogger sadly seem to be making the final option presented there their preffered MO. Whilst individual officers may go out of their way to search out and collect this information in the full knowledge of how useful it may be, collectively as organisations we tend to take the ostrich approach instead. (more…)

Criticism

July 22, 2011

To encourage criticism; write daily and leave the comments section open

This blog recently passed 70,000 hits which, due to the fact we are humans mistakenly wired to celebrate round numbers, we considered very exciting.

When we started to blog we did so in part because there wasn’t much out there that looked at local government from a front-line point of view. We even entitled it ‘a sideways look at the world of local government’ which we considered an appropriate summary of our intentions.

However, as time has gone on we’ve also tried to spark a bit of a debate and comment on local government issues in a way that are a bit different to the prevailing wisdom. As individual authors we never write anything we don’t believe but increasingly we don’t shy away from writing articles that we think might end up with us being criticised, or annoy our fellow bloggers, and as our readership increases we find that even those we thought were uncontroversial lead to a certain amount of comment.

Today our post is dedicated to these criticisms and comments. We love the feedback and have so much time for people who make the effort to write the intelligent and insightful responses they do. Sometimes we continue to disagree but sometimes we are convinced that we were wrong to start with.

So here are some people who deserve some kudos for their responses:

Read all about it

Just last week we argued that the bureaucracy in Local Government should maybe be granted some more credit due to the fact it allowed some accountability and prevented the sort of madness that has engulfed the News of the World

Responding, Mark Stanley pointed out that perhaps we were granting a bit too much credit where some wasn’t due:

Er… people in glass houses are picking up rocks by the sound of things.

I really like this blog, it offers great insight and is often right on the money. I think this is the first post I have felt really at odds with.

One significant issue with the practice of getting 30 signatures before a project is approved is that *nobody* assumes ownership of the blame because there are 30 fingers pointing at someone else.

Anyway, everybody knows it was IT’s fault!

Yes the NoW has taken a kicking, much like the Met police, MPs, fat cat council execs, BBC bosses, etc… Maybe it stuck around so long it became public sector?!

A fair point well made

Trade Unions

Also last week we were put up a post expressing our disappointment with the performance of local government trade unions and basically asking the question: If Trade Unions are the answer I’m not sure what the question is?

(more…)

The Department for Criticising Local Government

February 25, 2011

Because Grant Shapps and Eric Pickles already have their pictures on our site

The Department for Criticising Local Government (for that is what the DCLG has become) have developed their operating model over the past eight months and I think we are now in a position to identify the different roles the Ministers play.

It goes something like this:

  • Eric Pickles makes the generalised attack on Local Government. This will be done in a forum where there can be no real come back (set piece TV or radio interview, newspaper etc) and in the context of another Government announcement. In effect the attack will be an aside used to partially justify the Government’s position; be it the need for cuts, localism, or local government pay caps etc.
  • Grant Shapps will be rolled out to argue with the Local Government representatives over the details of the criticism. He will usually choose two or three talking points and defend them all day from Radio 4 in the morning to Newsnight before bed. He’s very good and usually wipes the floor with his opponent.
  • Bob Neill will act as the voice of outraged Britain picking on a small example, usually taken out of context, that proves that local government is wasteful, crooked or otherwise disagreeable. His speciality is local papers and responses to newspaper stories. He particularly loves ‘non-jobs’, expensive buildings, high pay and bins but will turn his hand to anything the DCLG spin team choose to plant with their favourite papers.

Which got me thinking; what will be the story next week and who will deliver it? Here are some thoughts:

  • Local Government is closing too many swimming pools denying Britain a chance of winning gold at the 2012 Olympics (Eric Pickles)
  • XXX Borough council is closing its pool despite the presence of two senior managers in the leisure department earning over £60,000. It also refuses to share the management of the pool with neighbouring authorities (Grant Shapps).
  • The pool  was once used to host a ‘big fat gypsy wedding’ and the authority spent £5,000 making the environment appropriate as part of their diversity strategy. (Bob Neill)

Or:

  • Local Government is not delivering on its commitment to clean graffiti off public buildings at a sufficient rate (Eric Pickles)
  • Evidence from the Local Government Association themselves shows that the proportion of the council budget invested in graffiti cleaning has fallen in each of the past three years as councils have stopped focusing on what residents really want. (Grant Shapps)
  • XXX council has a policy of actively encouraging graffiti; protecting the rights of criminals above the rights of normal residents and refusing to even clean the area’s residents truly care about. (Bob Neill)

Any more suggestions for what the DCLG might come up with next week?