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Presidents Blog

19 May 2017

Publish date: 19/05/2017

Its not all about the election!


In local government life goes on. Councils up and down the uk are carrying on delivering services; serving their public; deciding policy and generally getting on with it. It's probably just as well frankly as while a number of the policies being espoused by the various parties will have a significant impact on councils there seems to me at least to be a bit of a disconnect between the announcement of a policy and the council who will be delivering it. That's how it works and there is usually plenty of time between the rhetoric of the manifesto promise and the practical delivery. And frankly some of it never happens at all. But the spin is amazing!

Some policies could have a big impact. Will there really be the prime ministerial blessing for new council houses? I'm sure I heard something about that; accompanied by a faint background rumble of someone turning over somewhere underground; and social care; strictly a change in the value of assets rather than a policy change provided that one conveniently forgets the Care Cap that never was, which seems to have been shifted off the cliff end. There is no promise of what that might mean directly for councils though.

Education; quite clearly nothing to do with councils anymore although something tells me that they wont avoid the free lunch fallout or the impact of the retrograde effect of the introduction of grammar schools. And I have seen nothing about one of the flavours of the political month last year; our very own combined authorities and elected mayors; probably because like the rest of local government they are simply getting on with it.

So there is quite a lot to mull over about what the result of the election might be; depending of course upon who is returned. Other parties are available. But I think that you would be brave if not downright foolhardy to think that the general tide of councils being more commercial in their approach and actively embracing it as the right thing to do, is going to change any time soon. We are working with lots of councils on imaginative and practical ways in which they can continue to deliver services and raise money to do so and I don't think that they should change that just yet. The potential for councils to deliver things in a different way whilst keeping their core values is being realised and the vast majority of officers and members I talk to have found they like it.

And the other parties? If one looks at most of their manifestos in relation to local delivery what comes to my mind is what Noël coward said when excitedly asked by an acquaintance what he thought of her play: "darling; marvellous isn't the word......."

Happy elections!

Olwen Dutton,
Partner
for Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP