I was flattered to be asked and duly set about putting my thoughts into a tweet for them to use in a round-up of opinions from the sector and those who work with it (as I do). It was not easy, not least because there are things I don’t like about local government, particularly where communication with the public is concerned. Sometimes the bureaucratic, jargon heavy, flat-footed approach where a quick, clear and simple response would do is cause for frustration rather than adoration.
But, despite this, there are plenty of reasons to admire the way local government pulls out the stops for its communities, in the face of challenges from every conceivable angle. Benjamin Welby is one of those also asked for his views by the team, and gives a detailed post on his own blog today.
The reasons I love local government are not especially glamorous or ‘newsworthy’, but are no less important for that. Keeping the streets clean and well-lit, maintaining roads and parks and collecting our waste are soon noticed when they are not done well. In educating our children and providing care for those who are vulnerable, they provide a vital yet often unsung support for families and young people that will remain with them for life. They provide a lifeline for millions of older and infirm residents through the provision of extra care facilities and other forms of specialist, intensive support. Council housing, often derided, accounts for around 40% of all homes in the UK and even where local authorities are no longer a landlord, they are a vital link between the public the those various organisations that are.
They don’t always get things right, but who does? More than anything, it’s the sector’s commitment to fairness and doing things in the right way that makes it worth a big cheer.
After a bit of thought, my tweet on the subject simply read:
Local government does things most folk take for granted but make our communities livable. We’d be in a worse place without it.
It was good to see it appear on the blog, even if I did misspell the word livable.