Sad news this week; the chaps at We Love Local Government are closing their blog down. I understand their reasons. A group blog is a double-edged sword. You can pump out a lot of posts which gets you a regular audience, but that then increases the expectations of readers and the writers’ expectations of each other. I can see how that might start to eat up an ever larger portion of your week.
Their timing is crap though. The blogosphere needs blogs like WLLG more than ever now. There is so much misinformed commentary about local government at the moment. It is almost beyond parody, although some of us have a try from time to time. To redress that balance we need people who write well, understand the subject matter and can explain things to outsiders simply, but without over-simplifying. That was what We Love Local Government did, as well as adding a bit of humour into the bargain.
The half-truths, ill-informed commentary, confused debate and bare-faced lies will get worse over the next few years as public services reach a crunch point. It’s difficult to predict where the first catastrophic service collapse will come in the public sector but local authorities took some of the heaviest funding cuts in what was effectively the outsourcing of austerity by central government. The short-term prognosis looks bleak. Even with the famed efficiency savings, the likelihood of things falling apart in a council somewhere in Britain is high. The long-term prognosis is even worse. Some services we have taken for granted for years will disappear by the end of this decade.
Which is why we need people who understand how local government works and can write about it intelligently. There will be a lot of rubbish written about local councils in the tough years to come. The more people there are around to counter that, the better.
Not that I’m trying to make the WLLG folk feel bad or anything. I’m glad they did what they did for as long as they did. I hope they will inspire other well-informed people to write too. I also have a sneaking suspicion that we haven’t seen the last of Glen and Gareth. Writing gets to you and, once you’ve got into the habit, it’s a difficult one to break. Something, at some point, will get them going again and their words will pop up somewhere, even if it’s not on a regular blog.
Thanks for a great read chaps. I’m sure we will see you again soon.