Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Ownership of uncomfortable decisions

I recently received a request by my local council to participate in a budget forum to discuss how we can reduce or cancel services as part of a cost-cutting measure. Our council needs to save around a milliion pounds. I don't know how they got my name. Maybe they read my blogs!

I really don't think any councillor gets elected in order to rule over reductions in service. We still want our grass cut and our pavements in good repair. Our street lights have to work and our bins need emptying. I suppose there are some who get elected on a ticket to reduce services but it is not particularly pleasant to reduce a service and sack employees. There is a proposal in one Suffolk town hall to "outsource" its services. My gut feeling is that whatever level of service is provided by the council, a private enterprise should provide a similar service and take its share of a profit. It's a little like private funding initiatives to build hospitals and schools. Businesses step in not out of the goodness of their heart but because they want to make a profit. That profit has to be paid for by someone and it comes back to the tax payer.

Choose any aspect of council work and you want to see it flourish. Let's have beautiful parks, clean streets or an excellent library service. The one great advantage of holding a public forum is to give part-ownership of these uncomfortable decisions to as wide a group as possible.

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