In parts one and two, I pointed out that civil servants, because of the fact that they are incepted straight from university or school, and trained in the ways of the civil service, they have no experience outside the civil service, and yet they are the ones who are carrying out the wishes of the lawmakers. I also pointed out that it is almost impossible for a member of the public to register criticism, even if passed on by his MP. The reply coming from the Cabinet, obviously written by a civil servant, either doesn’t address the problem, or is a series of platitudes that get one nowhere. I also pointed out that change for the sake of change, and in particular sweeping change is costly, disruptive, pettifogging and wasteful of the time of both those implementing it and those for whom it serves. I stressed that the great advantage of local government, if properly funded and properly run, was that information, question and answer and even criticism could be managed verbally as the people were in the same building, or the same area, and so protracted memo writing would be avoided, and the public would have instant access either to their councillor or to heads of department.
I have a dichotomy, on one hand I’m saying that sweeping change is disruptive etc., and on the other that I feel that it is necessary to transfer the power for our major services to local government. What I’m really hoping will happen one day, is that we will put the clock back, institute local government as it originally was, and leave central government to act as a watchdog pure and simple. The problem today is that the government in power, worries about its rating in the media, its own ego, its electoral future, all put before the needs of the electorate. To this is added the remoteness of the control, and some of the ridiculous rules placed by bureaucracy, that hinder the work in hand. This would not happen in local government. For example if a big contract loses time because there has been a national strike of transport, the differential in costs from what would have been spent and what has been spent, at the end of the financial year, instead of being rolled over to the following year, it is taken back by the Treasury, and has to be re-budgeted for – an example of the problems of bureaucracy over pragmatism.
I can visualise the problems of putting the clock back, it should never have been put forward. I fear that it would have to be done at a time when the country is once again stable, affluent, and ready to change, and done in such a way that disruption is catered for, and the whole process is done in an orderly fashion, and not in the way this government makes rash changes at the drop of a hat, right across the board, without any trials and test runs, and could just as easily change its mind and go on another tack. Is it any wonder we are all confused, and apathetic.