Thursday, 18 February 2010

Harro-w-ds? BarNetto? What's wrong with just plain 'council'?

An article in today's Guardian outlines Labour's response to the Barnet easyCouncil idea: Labour-controlled Lambeth will be a "John Lewis council", with rebates (somewhere down the line) for residents who run things themselves, and much more "mutuality" all round. They are presenting this as a softer way to run local services more cheaply, ie, deliver cuts.

I like the comment from Tony Travers, director of the Greater London Group at the London School of Economics, also in the Guardian:

...both Lambeth and Barnet – in common with all councils elsewhere in the country – will face deep real-terms cuts from April 2011 onwards. The offer to run, say, a mutually owned housing estate or leisure centre, may come with an almost immediate responsibility to cut maintenance spending for several years running.
Yes, that's what it's all about, wrapped up in a lot of management speak designed to hoodwink residents and voters into thinking that, whatever crappy deal we get, we chose it.

I'm looking for the political party that says we don't have to "choose" cuts to public services in order to restore the nation's finances. There has to be another way...

(A note on journalism. The Guardian article talks about "Barnet, where the Tories are charging customers for services along the lines of the business model of budget airlines such as easyJet" - well, they're not, not yet. Sometimes journalists are so quick to take what councils and council politicians say about themselves as good coin, that they think an ominous plan is already being implemented.)

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