What has happened to Local Government? It’s become mired in problems of its own making: in-fighting, too much Politicking, large organisation-itis, and the disinterest of its employees in the lives of the people it is meant to serve. And it has become distrusted by Central Government who have tied it up in red tape, targets, lack of funding and flexibility; and the recent agenda for reform which is prioritising unelected regional government over County councils and Local councils.
So how about the local tax payers, and the local communities? We complain about when the bin men don’t come, and sometimes we actually ring the council about it or talk to one of their functionaries at the local housing office. But we don’t vote at elections. We whinge to each other about the bin men recycling only plastic and glass but not metal or foil, or vice versa. But we don’t get a chance to change it. Any “consultation” is perfunctory at best, and usually they’ve made the decisions before hearing the results. How about turning this on its head?
So how can we help the local council, their policies and practices? Shouldn’t this be our question? Shouldn’t we be asking how we can negotiate with them about how we want to recycle, when is a good time for rubbish to be collected, and how we’d best communicate with them to sort out problems when rubbish isn’t collected or when the bin men need to come a different day? Then we could help them to be consulting us, even when they are not doing a “consultation”; and we could let them know how well they are doing, even when there isn’t an election on.
Turning things on their heads… sounds like Community Development to me.