Posted tagged ‘welovelocalgovernment’

The Duty to Involve debate

April 20, 2011

We all agree people should be involved but is the Duty to Involve any good?

Eric Pickles is all over the deregulation agenda at the moment.

His latest effort has been to re-write the Best Value guidance and in doing so also repeal the ‘Duty to Involve’ and the ‘Duty to Prepare a Sustainable Community Strategy’.

His rewriting involved reducing pages and pages of official ‘guidance’ and reduce it to just under 300 words. Indeed, the press release accompanying the announcement was twice as long!

The welovelocalgovernment team is a diverse one so in order to reflect this we set up a little late night e-mail debate between two of us.

Here is the outcome:

Let’s cut to the chase; the duty to involve was just like any other duty; ill-defined and misappropriated. It was, at the same time, used to justify activity that suited a councils own needs and applied to activities that had no business being called consultation just to say we had met the duty.

Nothing like a gentle warm up eh? I think the issue you might be having is simply looking at life AD (after duty) and how the duty was misused. For all the faults in application, the duty provided those of us who care about public involvement and engagement a powerful argument. We were able to go to senior managers and argue that they had to do a better job of engaging with the public because of the duty. I’ve lost count of the number of times the duty was referenced in senior level reports. Local Government can often be slow to do the right thing and a little kick from the centre can do wonders.

But isn’t that the problem Mr Pickles et al are trying to solve? If Local Government doesn’t stop being so dependant on the ‘central powers that be’ how are we ever going to develop powerful self confident local government that we need?

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Reasons to be cheerful

April 8, 2011

Mr Cheerful says 'Hello'!

Local Government is in a bit of upheaval at the moment (you may have noticed) and this affects every single employee within the public sector. The upheaval can be such that even when you personally survive the mess of it all it still overwhelms you.

Recognising this, today’s post is just a little on the self-indulgent side (sorry about that) as we take a moment to celebrate a few successes for the WLLG team.

So what possible reason do we have to be cheerful? Well…

1)      Most importantly…

Every single member of the WLLG team had to reapply for their own (or a slightly/very different) job. And we all survived!

We all looked redundancy in the face and said ‘not now; we’re way too busy serving the public to be made redundant’.

Redundancy shrugged its shoulders and agreed. In other words we are here to fight another day… and are mighty pleased about it.

2)      This blog has just this week ticked over 40,000 hits. When we started a blog about local government I don’t think any of us could possibly have imagined that level of interest in the rantings and musings of local government officers. (we had 25 hits in the first month… Mainly us!) But, some of you have and we are very grateful to every one of you who has read a post, commented on a post, re-tweeted something we’ve written or just signed up to follow us on twitter. You’re all great.

The level of local government debate out there, away from the cameras and the political posturing, is extremely high and if we have made just a tiny contribution to it, and made a few people smile as well, then we’re very happy indeed.

3)      People actually follow us on twitter!

I never really knew what twitter was for but using it as we have done – to share ideas, thoughts, quips and ramblings about local government – has been a lot of fun and very informative. We’ve all learnt tonnes and enjoyed the chat!

4)      Getting involved in this whole blogging game has opened up a world of very interesting people for us to follow, learn from and debate with. We try to reference the blogs as we go and when we remember do a good ‘follow Friday’ set on twitter so we won’t name them all here but hopefully by now they all know who they are and why we hold them in such high regard.

5)      The clocks went forward and we now leave work in the sunshine!

Happy Friday everyone and thanks again.