Saturday, 21 November 2009

The most depressing thing ... (part II)

The other thing that councils really don't like to do is acknowledge the depth of experience and expertise that might exist within their own communites.

Some of that expertise is very expensive stuff - when charged - and that makes their unwillingness to make use of it even more bizarre.

When I am employed as a consultant (as opposed to eking my way as jobbing journalist) I am paid at rates not dissimilar to those that the Council no doubt shell out on their commercial consultancies.

I am recognised as an expert on data law, on statistical research - and a few more areas besides. So, if I stick my hand up and offer to help, it always strikes me as strange when councils say no - and prefer instead to spend their money on external consultants.

Oddly, this refusal to capitalise on expertise available is likely to be against the advice that some of the cutting edge consultancies are probably giving them.

Sad. Also, at times, something that makes me very cross indeed, since at the end of the day, their refusal to listen means I end up paying more as a ratepayer anyway.

The most depressing thing... (part I)

...about local authority bureaucrats is their inability to hear anything that isn't said by "approved people".

The list of approved people is, of course, pretty short, and is restricted mainly to other bureaucrats, their political masters in London and County Hall - and any assortment of consultants currently relieving them of large quantities of money at £1,000+ per day.

That can be the only explanation for the pretty pisspoor reaction to ANY public criticism. After all, this week I reported on how Lincolnshire Community Health Services were piloting a survey for parents of five-year-olds that appeared to be excessive, intrusive and possibly not even wholly legal.

It was duly taken up by the Mail. The BBC reported on it. So did the local press. And whilst, in the interests of balance, some supportive voices were published, the general reaction was pretty universally hostile.

People really do object to local authorities asking question about whether their children lie, cheat or steal.

So what is the Health authority doing? Is it openly talking about possibly having got things wrong.


They are pressing on as before. They will take into account parents views "as appropriate": and as for suggestions that the suervey might be flawed, either legally or in pure data-gathering terms - they really aren't interested.

Is anyone even remotely surprised. After all, sticking fingers in ears and loudly repeating "not listening" is the culture of government we now have after a decade of nanny state knows best.