Localism and not localism

26 May 2011 by Karl Hallam

The Communities department Eric Pickles is sticking to his guns on localism. This week he is pushing Nottingham City Council with legal action if they do not publish details of all spending over £500. People in Northamptonshire might wish he'd been so keen to keep to the localist principles in mind when he decided to approve the disposal of low grade nuclear waste in a landfill in the county.

Nottingham object because they say it will cost £100K to put the info together. Pickles' response to this is:

"I will be forcing Nottingham to do this".

"It seems to me to be ridiculous that I have to use my powers under the 1980 [Local Government, Planning and Land] Act just to force Nottingham to do so.

"They've placed themselves into a ridiculous corner and people will presumably ask what has Nottingham got to hide that other councils are proud to produce."

In this case it is not clear how much of a local priority it is local people that they know about all spending over £500 by the council, but in Northants local opinion is very clear. The local MP (Louise Bagshawe) is admirably forthright about this issue and for a new MP brave in putting her head above the parapet and significantly reducing her chances of a ministerial job in the near future. She says:

 “They haven’t listened to the local authorities who all came through this with one voice.

“The Government says it is committed to localism, but how committed is it?

“The major disappointment is that I have no further recourse. I’m absolutely gutted. I will be doing my best to embarrass the Government over this.”

This is important stuff and illustrates the huge challenges facing local government at the moment, but it is just not as sexy as all the NHS stuff/tuition fees and yet it is just as diffiuclt for the Lib Dems who have built up from town halls. Goverments are very dependent on council to deliver for them and yet recent Prime Ministers have shown very little interest in them. 

In our current work on third sector sustainability we are finding that one of the biggest issues for such organisations is the lack of information on what the local council plans to do with respect to key areas like commissioning. If councils do bite the bullet and embrace the new freedoms that the localism agenda may offer, will the centre keep their hands off?








your comments

Posts: 1
Reply #1 on : Sat August 04, 2012, 14:01:03
I think that Central Government should coecnntrate on making sure that every location in Britain has a broadband capability. At the moment far too many areas of the country, even in Oxfordshire, only have poor bandwidth via dial-up, there is little point making high bandwidth services available if half the people cannot use them.Specialist agencies do a great job collating information regarding their area of specialism, however, publication of the content can be patchy or unintuitive, often relying on techniques that make the information NOT accessible. Central Government has a strong role to play here via the Direct.Gov web site, making sure that content delivery is consistent across all agencies.As I personally know quite a number of people who have no interest in the Internet or PC's, I feel the strategy for Digital Britain may be ill conceived. These people are not disenfranchised benefits claimants, they have their own homes and some even run businesses, but they do not foresee changing what is already working well for them. They are aware that there is a massive overhead in cost, time and effort to engage with IT, and as such this would not improve their business or personal life, but would present them with an very unwanted distraction.I also know many people who are homeless, or living in premises on short term tenancy agreements, in private rented accommodation. Quite apart from any costs involved, there is no incentive to engage in a 12 months contract for supply of broadband, these people rarely have a fixed telephone line for the same reason.Charities and community organisations can help out here and need to be given access to more funds to allow them to provide facilities and training required when none IT people turn up with a specific issue that can be resolved via ICT.The biggest put off for most people is the cost of fixing a device that has broken either through misuse or become infected with malware, especially as these are already very common occurances which are becoming more and more prevalent every day. With little sign of things being under overall control, other than by hackers and criminals.PS the police are unprepared to deal with domestic hacking, social engineering scams, the sale of fake goods, identity theft and malicious impersonation, all currently being conducted with great ease via the internet.Central Government has a responsibility to bring the Police etc, up to speed with the rest of society before pushing the technology down people's throats, especially the poor who are incapable of recovering from such devastating intrusions into their private lives.

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