Local government for all to see

February 15, 2013 8 Comments
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This business of Mary Portas says almost everything necessary about why things don’t work in our country.

While it’s true that there might be some government scheme somewhere which works and as it does, we don’t get to hear about it from the press, in general I think we’re agreed that anything the government touches, especially local government, turns to ashes.

The longer I live, the more the classical-liberal position seems best for society. With local government though, there is the added factor of Common Purpose. You will have noticed that one of those councils was Dartford:

“It was our third attempt to create a partnership when we decided to do the Common Purpose programme. Two years on, the partnership is still together and is starting to produce real benefits.”

- Graham Harris, Managing Director, Dartford Borough Council

You’ll have noticed “managing director”.

Of a council? Talk about delusions of grandeur and in those two parenthesized words lie one of the true issues with councils – they think they’re businesses instead of state providers. The sorts of people Common Purpose approve for employment are public servants with delusions of grandeur and ambition but lacking the talent to do more than push pens and who are essentially easy to manipulate from above.

And officious to those below – I’ve had a run in with my own local council in the past few days, so, so different to the way other bodies dealt with my requests. Here are some comments at the Wail on the Portas debacle:

And one of the councils Mary mentioned is Redcar and Cleveland. Have they read Marys report? Maybe but they’re not heeding it.

Redcar high street is dead but they continue with pay and display there and now want to implement parking charges and restrictions in Saltburn by the Sea. The town doesn’t have a parking issue, it has a flourishing independent shopping culture and thriving farmers market….so what do the council want to do? kill it like Redcar.

They’re just proving they are blind to success and deaf to a majority population saying no to parking charges. What they are now planning to do is spend £20000 on a consultant to change Saltburn’s population’s opinion, probably funded from the Mary Portas pot mentioned in this article.

No reply from a request for help sent to Mary regarding Saltburns plight has been forthcoming in the last 4 weeks. Asking Mary to do a report was just an exercise in quietening the people of the nation. No one with any power really cares at all.

- Debbie, Saltburn By The Sea

And:

No mention of business rates! I am a small shop owner. My rates have increased 120% in five years and gone up for 14 years in a row! The English shop rates are the highest rates/property taxes in the world. Business rates are now even higher than my shop rent. I pay ten times the amount of a council tax payer in a similar value property & do not get my bins emptied. Rates are going up again this year by 2.6%. If the equivalent increase was given to council tax payers there would be riots on the streets.

- fightrates, dunstable

And:

Most of the comments posted say the same thing , high parking fees that put people off , also high rates , high water rates , we had a shop in Lichfield Staffs and we needed to work for around two and a half days a week to pay for these charges ! these councils are run by people who have NO business idea or trading whatsoever , they have never had to go it alone in the real world ! the top management are highly overpaid

- presidenteernie, Cannock

And:

Councils have caused a lot of the ”high street” problems with parking and restricted access , business rates and miles of red-tape and encouraging out of town centres. So to give them more tax-payers money to solve the issues does seem a bit strange..and maybe the reason that most of the money is unspent is because they havn’t got a clue..

- s.gee, stafford

And:

Free parking. Have you seen the charges? £2 an hour, £6 for 4 hours in some places. No wonder people avoid towns, or if they go they’re as fast as possible to avoid high parking fees – meaning less time to look around and shop. People prefer retail parks and large supermarkets because they have FREE PARKING, so you never need to keep track of how much time you’re shopping.

- Roy, London

And back to the original article:

Elsewhere, Dartford Council spent £1,160 hiring a person in a Peppa Pig costume, £317.46 on items from Waitrose, £5,983 on newspaper surveys and £1,317 on surveys.

A Dartford spokeswoman said adverts in local newspapers were used to promote the launch of Sunday trading in the town, a six-month Sunday market pilot, and a bursary scheme for businesses looking to set up in the market.

A Dartford spokeswoman. Y-e-e-e-s-s-s. And central government on this?

‘The main aim of this scheme has been to harness the energy and enthusiasm of local people to breathe new life into the town centres and make them the hearts of their communities once again’

- Department for Communities and Local Government

12% of funds allocated, not a clue how to implement the stated purpose or to take on board why the high street is dying, online alternatives proliferating. Now if I can see this, if you can see it, if the people who commented can see it, then why can’t government?

Yes, a rhetorical question in the end.

8 Responses to Local government for all to see

  1. Derek
    February 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    When Blair changed the system of local councils, he increased the power of the officials, and reduced the power of the elected councillors. If we want democracy back in local government, we have to reverse all the damage done by Blair and his hangers on. We need a completely new set of politicians, who believe in honesty and democracy.

    • February 16, 2013 at 7:17 am

      Where are we going to find them, though, since it appears those are qualities in short supply now in the general population?

    • Terry
      February 16, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      Where are you ever going to find honest and democratic politicians ?

  2. johnd2008
    February 15, 2013 at 7:52 pm

    As part of the savings to be made by my local council, they are closing the Civic Hall, the Public toilets, the Tourist Information office and the local museum.This in a seaside town by the Lake District. The local paper informs us that another 3 shops are to close this next month.In addition,car parking charges are to rise and they wonder why no one wants to run shops in town. The only shops left now are charity and betting shops.

    • February 16, 2013 at 10:35 am

      All comments so far – yes.

      This one about the Lake District – I’m sitting here shaking my head. This is why I take the view that it’s intentional to cause the maximum discomfort and disruption to people and why, knowing Common Purpose is in at each major decision, and knowing they work to an agenda, if the rest of the council doesn’t, this is why I can’t accept it’s mere incompetence.

      Even incompetent people who are greedy, cushy, public sector employees must surely know, in their heads, that closing toilets and Tourist Office in the Lake District is madness. Yet they’ll put up a Damien Hirst “statue” or similar.

      They just have to know how that will affect tourists and people in general. Surely.

      Sigh.

      • Terry
        February 16, 2013 at 3:18 pm

        As in Torquay years ago then they will complain about people urinating and leaving rubbish everywhere and spend even more money cleaning up !!!

  3. February 15, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    The people who make these council decisions not only have no idea of running a business but as usually grossly overpaid bureauocrats they equally well have absolutely no idea of the value of money. If you are paid a 3 figure sum salary then business rates at a few thousands per year are pocket money. It would never occur to them that it could be a large proportion of entire shop takings.
    Then when they spend they blithly talk of road signs that cost thousands to erect or simple white lines that cost thousands to paint. They do this without realising that their entire scheme of values is completely and totally out of line with reality and ordinary people would employ a small tradesman for tens of pounds to do a similar sized job.

  4. Terry
    February 16, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    It is always easy to spend other peoples money with no responsibility. When they have wasted most of it they just put the rates up.

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