Sunday, 2 September 2018

Councils facing financial turbulence may have to consult more – not less

Local government is being forced to make drastic cuts - in the name of something or other:
Futures Forum: The impact of 'the big society' and 'the small state' on local government

There are real concerns about how this will impact on local decision-making:
Futures Forum: The death of local democracy

On the other hand, whilst a lot of these problems are due to central government starving localities of cash - it could be said that if there had been more effective local-decision-making, then a lot of the mess local government is now in might not have happened...

Take the Northampton/East Devon decisions to build a new HQ:
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and the Northamptonshire relocation project > "New council HQ could save taxpayers £xm in x years authority claims"
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: moving into a 'modern, flexible working environment to save on running costs' - which a cash-strapped council then has to sell
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: objecting to "the demolition of the council’s current headquarters to make way for x homes, a scheme that will help fund the building of a new HQ...... The council claims that the development would not be viable with the provision of affordable housing."

The Consultation Institute says there are lessons to be learnt: 

Lessons from the Northants County Libraries judicial review.

August 22, 2018

Rumour has it that there are several councils in danger of following Northamptonshire towards a similar financial plight. If so, they need to pay attention for the High Court has ruled against Northants’ decision to make cuts in its Libraries provision. A cash crisis evidently does not excuse councils of their duties under the Law of Consultation...

Is it maybe time for Councils everywhere to re-think their Budget consultation practices and ensure they will not fall into some of the traps which ensnared Northamptonshire and Bristol. The upshot will almost certainly be that Councils facing financial turbulence may have to consult more – not less.

Councils in crisis - consult more, not less — The Consultation Institute
Video Briefings: Northamptonshire County Council - Library Closures - YouTube

Central government has proposed some measures to help - but these have met with a lot of scepticism:
Futures Forum: The government's "civil society strategy" will not give people "a more direct role in decision making." > Rather, we need a real dose of 'deliberative' or 'participatory' democracy.

What we need is some real 'deliberative' or 'participatory' democracy - as practiced elsewhere:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and how the Irish referendum's "deliberative democracy" countered fake facts
Futures Forum: Barcelona’s Experiment in Radical Democracy

Because people really are fed-up with being ignored:
Futures Forum: "Local voices in the UK are powerless against a system that is essentially authoritarian, blind to community issues and needs, and light years away from asking if the relentless pursuit of growth really is the solution to all our problems."

No comments: