Look mom, we’re number 4 in all of Surrey!!!

Look mom, Camberley now has the 4th most dangerous area of Surrey, right at the Town Centre!!!  We were featured yesterday by “Get Surrey” for this impressive achievement…

The leadership of Surrey Heath certainly has something to be proud of don’t they???  Aaahhh, probably not… A big part of the shocking increase in crime is all the run down and vacant buildings that criminals can use to ply their drugs and violence. The litter everywhere is part of the clue…

This is a direct consequence of the failure of the “strong leader” management of Surrey Heath. No doubt this week we will be treated to the most rich and spectacular denial of any fault on behalf of the Council by the leader and CEO. These are such fun to watch, and are good cannon fodder for upcoming blogs…

The Grenfell scab is torn off…

The Grenfell disaster has been a long time in the making, and it is a direct result of the “strong leader” problem of local government. Tearing this scab off cost 80 people their lives, and we will never hear the end of it until the system is changed…

But why would I say this is such a clear indicator of the problem endemic to the system? Well a few “strong leader” types made all the decisions here, all whilst getting paid £67K a year to do nothing for their residents. They made the “simple” choice of saving the council a bit of money (not a lot) and cladding the tower in much cheaper fire stoking materials instead of actual fire-resistant materials. Oh didn’t they do good? Certainly justifies the big salaries… But the amazing thing is that the other “strong leaders” in Councils across the country made the same “simple” decisions, hundreds of them.  They made the same “simple” choices and not surprisingly all their apartment towers were equally flammable, and now thousands more have had to be evacuated.

So, when it goes down, where are the leaders? For 4 days they are no where to be seen, “simple”… When they do show up they take none of the blame for anything and essentially throw it all off to the London assembly and the central government.  The common response for all the “strong leaders” everywhere: don’t show up for 4 days, then blame everyone else and then quit… The only part they got right was the quit part…

If it were just this, that would be one thing, but we see the same problem in countlesss other areas. “Strong leaders” do what they think is best, but there is nothing they do that could be remotely considered “best” for the rest of us. They borrow £2,000 from every citizen and buy shopping malls and don’t tell anyone, spend £187M putting in street lights and then turn them off to save £21K, charge you for taking your trash to the tip that you already paid for, fail completely at building sufficient housing, and then give themselves raises for the great job they’ve done. As long as there is no local representative democracy, you will get what you get…

That dog does not hunt…

There’s an American euphemism that says a whole lot about UK local government politics: “that dog does not hunt”… It also says a whole lot about the sort of “suck-up sycophants” you have to surround yourself with as a “strong leader” to survive.  When you need a dog to hunt, the worst thing that can happen is to have a dog looking out and enjoying the landscape. Local government in the UK is in trouble, it is proving itself not fit for purpose, and that is because it can’t get the job done, the dog does not hunt…

So, what doesn’t work? Now the results vary from place to place, but primarily:

  1. costs being passed to the taxpayer go up and up and up, and are never coming down. Local government taxes increase every year and have for the last 20 years I have been here in Surrey Heath, they only ever go up
  2. service goes down by measurable amounts every year. No argument can be made that the Town Centre is anything other than an eyesore. The roads are getting worse by the day, as are most of the things that the public has to put up with
  3. both local and County Councils get more out of touch with both the views of the people and the technology that can be applied to get those view by the day. We have loads of “consultations” where we don’t actually consult with anyone. We couldn’t possibly afford to do that as we might find out what they think, and we might find ways to work that are miles better than what we do now
  4. careers of mediocrity and incompetence are endorsed and promoted by Council personnel, and not just permitted but promoted by these “strong leaders”. Why would you make anyone a CEO who has no earned authority and no experience whatsoever in successfully making any public service work?
  5. any possibility of “fresh blood” is culled from the system before it has any chance of life. The only possible way forward for local government to succeed is to have term limits for its elected representatives. Terms are 4/5 years, two terms and you are out. Anything longer breeds nothing but a bland procession of suck-up sycophants who actually need the job

So, what do we need? Pretty simple really, we need results: actual leaders and a system that can actually listen and actually works. Reward systems for actual performance, and elected representatives that actually represent…

Local Government Leadership

Just the opposite of the Central Government, almost all local government has what is called a “strong leader” form of government.  Although it has the weakest leaders, there is a strong set of “rules” that keep them in power. Unlike MPs who can toss the Prime Minister out with a 15% no-confidence vote, at the local level it is 75%. So, if you are a council like Surrey Heath with a conservative majority of 35/40, that will only happen the day after hell freezes over…

So, once you build in a system of job security, you build in a system of all sorts of patronage and favouritism.  Basically, you kiss the butt of the leader or you are a back-bencher twice removed…  But it is even worse than that, the “strong leader” actually runs everything through a series of lackeys called “the Executive”, and they decide 99.9% of everything that happens. Their only job is to nod politely whenever the leader wants something…  They don’t have to consult with any of the other “elected” members of the Council, they do what they please…

Bizarely, the electoral commission is going through this long and tedious exercise to get rid of a few councillors and make the wards populations more equal. In other countries it is called gerrymandering, but no we call it consultation. Turns out a lot of things are called consultation that don’t consult on anything…  Anyway, it’s a waste of time because 30 of the 40 councillors can’t/don’t do squat. Actually all they can do is squat.

So, next we will show a couple interesting new developments in the tragedy that is UK local government…

Not me mate…

So, our mayor Valerie White has been bitten by Twitter… Turns out she didn’t  intentionally post the story about the Asian Escorts moving into Camberley, especially in her role as Mayor of Surrey Heath. But the story very definitely did come from her account…

The lesson? No matter what your kids tell you about how much they think they know about Social Media, don’t believe them, find out for yourself or you will pay dearly.  Unless,of course, you actually don’t mind this sort of thing, then you get what you get.  Was Valerie misquoted? No. Did she intend to promote Asian Escorts in Camberley? No…  Does she regret that someone could do that to her? Absolutely yes. If you don’t know what you are doing on Social Media, Get some help…

On the bright side it gave me the chance for a very pleasant chat with Valerie today…