We Love Local Government

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.

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7 Responses to We Love Local Government

  1. Pingback: We Love Local Government - Rick - Member Blogs - HR Blogs - HR Space from Personnel Today and Xpert HR

  2. Pingback: What are ‘Public’ Services « Dr Ian C Elliott

  3. Thanks so much for these really kind words, although it’s impossible for me to think that we are the only two people out there who have opinions on local government. Through the blog and the Twitter feed we’ve encountered some fantastic officers, members and others who both have knowledge of and care about local government, and I’m certain there are many more out there with a similar attitude to us.

    I hope above all else that the work we did shows others out there that it’s okay to have their say, and perhaps address some of the issues facing our sector today. There would never have been a good time for us to stop, as the challenges facing us grow larger and more immediate every day; now’s the time for us to share our thoughts and be proud of working in the public sector; we’re doing great things collectively, and need to keep our eyes on the needs of local people whatever problems we face.

    As for writing in the future, well, it’s a long career to go through it without ever putting fingers to keyboard again… 😉

    • Karinne says:

      “it’s impossible for me to think that we are the only two people out there who have opinions on local government. Through the blog and the Twitter feed we’ve encountered some fantastic officers, members and others who both have knowledge of and care about local government, and I’m certain there are many more out there with a similar attitude to us.”

      Glen – very true, however you guys have a lovely, insightful way of writing about local government issues, and you found a way that you were comfortable to speak publicly. There is a strong, usually implicit, pressure to not talk about the experiences of working in local government outside of its walls. I refer to it in Australia as “the fear of the Daily Telegraph”, you could change that last word for Mail and not be far off it.

      Sadly this means that to the majority of people outside of government we are a complete enigma, which leads to the stereotypes that we frequently encounter of the lazy, in-efficient bureaucrat, instead of the reality of hard-working, dedicated, intelligent people who work under intense pressure and scrutiny in situations with archaic systems that hamper efforts, or where they are expected to be experts in a strange variety of fields.

      A former Minister of mine once said “Don’t provide the opportunity to reinforce the prejudices of your enemies”, and in not speaking more publicly about who we are and why we make the decision we do, I think we do ourselves a disservice. I hope that as a result of your excellent blog a few more blogs of that nature will spawn, and slowly, slowly, we will start to talk more publicly about what it means to choose to be a public servant, and slowly, slowly change the dominant, pejorative stereotype.

  4. rogerh says:

    A great pity. Maybe I am not looking in the right places but I cannot find many really good (ie truthful) blogs about public services – health, local gov, civil service, Whitehall. There are exceptions – justice and law sees a few. Is there some malign influence at work that gives bloggers ‘the 3am knock’?

    • ThinkPurpose says:

      Yes, yes there is a malign influence, it is the subject matter of the above post, the austerity drive. If you were to blog well and truthfully, you may find yourself being personally affected by the austerity movement…

      I don’t blog about local government in particular, instead I stick to things common to all organisations. There are plenty of interesting things to type about local government, but it would take a brave person or someone with a private income to comment on local government at a useful enough level of detail.

      A lot of unlikely posts in local government are politically restricted, the senior ones are and so are ones at the centre of a Local Authority. This means that you cannot post on issues that may affect support for any political party, for example the Welfare Reform Act. I wouldn’t be interested necessarily in the contents of the Act, and its purpose, but I am interested in the specifics of how Universal Credit will be administered. However I am not touching that as a subject as it is tied with a particular political party, as is the old Audit Commission inspection regime, that is an area i have a lot of experience off and things I would like to talk about, but cannot.

      • rogerh says:

        Thanks very much. I can see why “politically restricted” was initiated in those pre WEB days but with the decline of local press coverage (if that was ever much value) we the public now lack any serious means of seeing what is going on ‘under the hood’ and the political machine has every interest in keeping it that way. So, a highly sophisticated way of stifling the truth and the WEB has made control from the top so much easier. Much worse than I had thought.

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