The fundamental ideas behind the 'Big Society' could not be more welcome in the UK. The UK has an impressive voice in publishing and spouting rhetorical positive ideas across the world - with much of these ideas from UK sources being adopted elsewhere, particularly in EU states - In reality back in the UK this noise is rarely followed up with actual on the ground action. For the last twenty years the UK has steadily slipped down virtually all European and Global league tables and published lists regarding community / health / environment amongst many other issues and presently ranks below all other G7 and now most G20 Countries.
This is not due to lack of financing - huge amounts of money disappear into the Quango / Local government cloud and in comparison with other countries the amounts of money paid is phenomenal. The workforce of the UK public sector is immense and enviable to other countries as it allows centralised control of a large proportion of the GDP. It is however unsustainable, a fact that has been known for a long time and one which the new coalition government sought to change, but when faced with an incredibly strong public sector, particularly the Union and PR elements contained within it, the pre election rhetoric has somewhat morphed and is now much less radical.
Is it simply an obsession of regulation that has thwarted real progress for local schemes? Certainly this is the easiest method of preventing progress for small scale private sector initiatives and community action. And whilst cynical, it is all too easy to state that the Local Govt' / Quango cloud which is stopping progress is intentional simply in order to protect both regulatory powers and indeed jobs as well.
An example - In the town of Winkleigh, North Devon, The Community Centre had been run by volunteers for several years, with events aimed towards providing knowledge with regards a sustainable lifestyle (cooking classes / knitting and sewing as well as monthly lectures on sustainable issues ), were ongoing and increasing in popularity. Devon County Council, (often heralded as a progressive and sustainable Council), owned the property and negotiations were well advanced to sell the centre to the volunteers committee, (who had successfully raised the money needed to purchase the centre). At the last moment DCC decided not to include the Car Park and limited access also - however the Car Park / Playground could be bought for £200,000 - hardly a realistic valuation. Other covenants regarding the sale were added to this new move and thus aided in persuading the committee to back away. This is the complete opposite of 'Big Society' ideals - yet letters to the PM to highlight this issue were replied with by way of a leaflet detailing the Big Society?!?
The above example is just one of hundreds now happening where it is apparent that deliberate blockage is in place. Any funding and responsibility will be kept and well guarded by existing Councils & Quangos in the obvious move of self protection.
Using Twitter highlights the problems with the general attitude of Local Government / Quangos very effectively - Using Twitter for Business or to gain access to information requires the user to follow as many relevant accounts as possible. Celebrities / News organisations need not follow many as it is a vehicle of advertising or a vehicle for displaying news events which come from alternate sources. There are many individuals who try and behave like celebrities by reducing their following accounts - but this is simply vanity. But for Quangos and Local Governments to do the same is bizarre and also wrong as they should be seen to be gaining as much as transferring any knowledge - the PR is simply being used to self congratulate.
In order to proceed it is unfortunately absolutely vital that regulation needs to be centralised not more localised. Otherwise all of us in the private sector and as private citizens will actually see ourselves further distanced from any role, contract, or progression in our immediate locality. This process is catastrophic in the long term as it is us in the private sector who pay the Taxes which ultimately allow the progression - if this progression is removed from us in completeness there is little point in continuing to carry on as a small business paying the higher rates of taxes and providing local services.
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