Posted tagged ‘Simon Parker’

That was the local government week that was

March 16, 2012

 

Someone missed the 'B' off from the graphic

As always with our weekly round up we are at least a week behind the rather excellent Richard Vize whose weekly column for the Guardian Local Government Network is a local government journalistic highlight for us. This (well, last) week he tackled the issue of integration and took a long hard look at the DCLG’s latest plan; one that unsurprisingly omitted much mention of local government. As Richard points out:

The near absence of councils from this strategy is as good an indicator as any of how the government is intent on marginalising local government in national life. While some councils have historically been responsible for failing to see how their communities were dividing before it was too late, many have shown courage, passion and ingenuity in bringing local people together, and putting integration at the heart of what they do.

His argument about the absence of housing from the strategy is also incredibly well made and should be taken on by the DCLG.

Sticking with the GLGN I absolutely loved this piece from Councillor Rex Osborne. He makes the case for more evidence based policy and the direction he takes is one that I really appreciate:

All I’m looking for is something as basic as, asking (and answering) the question: if we cut A, what will the affect be on area B and person C? This would be hugely beneficial to policy makers, councillors, and the public alike.

Such analysis could be both prospective and retrospective, assessing how cuts could be anticipated to affect certain groups or areas, and later examining what has actually happened, and how far (or not) this has diverged from expectations.

The whole piece is well worth a read.

(more…)

Why We All LOVE Local Government

October 24, 2011

Love!

As regular readers will have noticed last week we broke through the 100,000 hits ‘barrier’ and celebrated accordingly with a slightly self-involved celebratory post. Obviously, we don’t apologise for that (we’re still bathing in a warm cuddly feeling which is absolutely baffling for our colleagues) but we do recognise that it did slightly miss the point.

The reason that this blog is successful (and we accept that success is a pretty relative term) is because of the subject matter; yes, local government. With this in mind we thought it only fair to have a post devoted to why we love local government and we asked some of our friends to help us.

So, without further ado here is the WLLG and Friends tribute to local government:

I’ve worked in both the private and the public sector. In my experience, per 100 employees, local government has more passion, determination, innovation, hard work, long hours, dedication, ridiculous arguments, office rocking laughter, success in the face of adversity, caring, blue sky thinking, cost focused, patient than any private sector firm. But most of all, very most of all, it has an army of personality and humanity. That’s why I really love local gov.

Louise Kidney (@LouLouK)

Because its where the rubber hits the road for quality of life. It has to make all the tough choices that Westminster politicians make, and really live with the consequences – and according to the public, it has more impact on people’s lives than westminster, whitehall or the EU. And finally the people – there are more cheerful pragmatists in local government than anywhere else in public services.

Ben Page (of Ipsos MORI fame)

I love local government at its best because it’s what makes our local communities work.  Imagine life without it – no social services for vulnerable elders and children, no libraries, no local roads or street lighting, hardly any sports facilities, no way to plan our towns and villages, a hugely diminished voluntary sector, even now hardly any schools, no local democracy, no one saying this is our special place and it’s great.

Roger White (HelpGov)

I love local government because the best councils are bursting at the seams with fresh thinking, and because it’s a place where new ideas can make a real difference to communities.

Simon Parker (New Local Government Network)

Living and working in the same borough. Makes you find out and understand so much more about the community where you live and love 🙂

Antonia Dixey (@antoniadixey)

I love local government because it has given me the opportunity to work with impressive, inspiring people who are passionate about improving people’s lives

Richard Vize (Guardian Local Government Network Contributing Editor)

Despite all the challenges Local Government will face over the coming years, staff will come together and continue to deliver first class services to its citizens. “Challenge, Change and Transformation” is the way forward to reshape services not the re-introduction of “Compulsory Competitive Tendering”.

Cllr David Harrington (Ingleby Barwick West Ward)

Local government does things most folk take for granted but make our communities liveble. We’d be in a worse place without it.

Ben Lowndes (@blowndes)

I Love Local Government because it sets the local context and provides the services, so my family can get on and live our lives.

Neil McInroy (Centre for Local Economic Strategies)

I love Local Government because I can see some of the outcomes of my work on the communities I serve.

David Sommerfeld (@hebdave)

Large Government provides a dizzingly array of services to their communities from the familiar (schools, roads, bins) to the hidden (support for vulnerable families & adults). We get a lot of stick from Pickles, the press and the public when we get it wrong but what I love is that sometimes we are our own harsh critic and no other type of public organisation has the same level of internal challenge and desire to continuous improve.

Will Oulton (@Williamoulton)

I love it because it’s full of unsung people who work tirelessly to do the mundane, the important and the seemingly impossible.
Ben Welby (@bmwelby)

And what about us?

We Love Local Government because:

Within the catch all term ‘local government’ is a diverse, complicated, at times bizarre and yet dedicated, brilliant and innovative organism. At it’s best local government can make a lasting difference to the lives of the residents it serves and even at it’s worst you can guarantee that the motives will be good and that there’ll be something interesting to talk about. It’s a place where things done perfectly go unnoticed, whilst the slightest hiccup makes news columns big and small, which attracts some of the greatest thinkers and doers working today along with more than its fair share of those whose only purpose in life is to serve as a bad example to others.

Like any relationships, our love of local government has its ups and downs, its highs and lows, its moments of pure inspiration, its moments when the acronym WTF?! is the only way to describe things.  It may drive us mad at times, but if nothing else it will always drive us someplace interesting.

Local government is all this and so much more.

We suggest you come back here regularly to find out all about it.

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: welovelocalgovernment@gmail.com

Understanding the Local Government budget cuts

September 28, 2011

When £10 million isn't 10 million pounds...

A little while ago one of my colleagues wrote a piece detailing how the ‘feared’ cuts of April 2011 were in reality just the calm before the storm. They briefly explained how local authorities had dealt with the budget cuts in a very short period of time:

Well, some of them looked at what they could do in a few months and made some small cuts around the edges. Others looked at small financial adjustments they could make which could keep them going for a year. Some found ‘underspends’ to roll over whilst others just dived into their reserves to make ends meet from 2010/11 to 2011/12.

This is evidence, if ever it was needed, that the local government budget process is pretty complicated. This was further brought home to me last week when the estimable Simon Parker of the NLGN reported from the Lib Dem Conference that:

Turns out LibDems aren’t all that passionate about #localgov – but MPs in denial – one said cuts ‘not draconian.

Not draconian? Surely they missed the memo?

Well, either that or they simply don’t quite understand the local government budget.

The budget in my local authority is roughly (and all numbers here are rough as the budget process is way above my pay grade) £140 million and we’re being asked to find something like £50 million savings over the next four years. The assumption you might make is that the council’s budget in 2015 would be just £90 million.

Unfortunately, this is totally incorrect. Our budget in 2015 will probably end up being something like £130 million. You might then assume that this is a cut of just £10 million and something that our Lib Dem friends would easily describe as ‘not draconian’. Again, you’d be wrong.

So why the discrepancy?

Because life isn’t static and nor is the council budget.

(more…)