Blog - Davy Jones Consultancy

Participatory Budgeting is going from strength to strength throughout the British Isles. At the recent national PB Network meeting in London, there was an excellent presentation from Glasgow City Council and the City Planning Partnership on their recent PB work. This follows on from previous PB work elsewhere in Scotland in Edinburgh, Leith, Fife and at the Richmond Fellowship. There was also a representative at the PB Network event from the Scottish Government, which is looking at how PB might...

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23 Jan 2014
Fracking and local government

Even though I am an old cynic, I was still a bit taken aback by David Cameron’s announcement of “incentives” (“bribe”, in my opinion) for local communities who welcome fracking in their area. The headline-grabbing information was that councils could keep 100% of the business rates they collect from consented sites for shale gas developments. The Government claimed that this “represents double the current figure and could be worth up to £1.7m a year for a typical site”. What could...

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13 Aug 2013
Two important conferences coming up!

There are two really important events coming up for all those who are genuinely interested in citizen participation. Consultation Institute On 22 October, the Consultation Institute (TCI) holds a major international conference on consultation, “A World That Listens”, as part of its tenth anniversary celebrations. I remember when I left the Audit Commission six years ago to go freelance: one of the first organisations that I worked with was the Consultation Institute (TCI – which at that time was just...

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26 Jun 2013
Cut, cuts and er… more cuts!

So today local government faces another 10% cut in its Government grant for local services. According to Grant Shapps, this should be no problem as councils have “coped” so well with past cuts. This is nonsense of course, as he well knows. Having already had an average of 33% shaved off their budgets in the last three years, to take out a further 10% means councils will have lost between 40-50% of the budgets they had when this Government took...

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Let’s leave aside arguments about the Ding Dong song, celebrations or state funerals and the rest. I want to focus on the legacy of Margaret Thatcher for local government. Hostility to local government The general consensus from those who knew her was that Thatcher loathed local councils. One of her closet allies, Nicholas Ridley, famously set the tone for her government’s attitude by arguing that councils should only have one meeting a year to let out the contracts on all...

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28 Feb 2013
Politicians and trust

Another month, another IPSOS MORI poll on Trust. Earlier this month, they asked people whether generally speaking they would trust groups of people to tell the truth. Top of the list were doctors (89% said Yes), teachers (86%), scientists (83%) and judges (82%). Bottom of the list were politicians generally with a princely 18%. They were behind journalists and bankers both on 21%, MPs generally on 23% and estate agents on 24% (Interestingly, trade union leaders fared better on 41%...

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16 Jan 2013
New year resolution

New Year Resolution It is commonplace after eating one’s own body weight in chocolate over Xmas to adopt a weight-related New Years Resolution. But this is the resolution that should have been adopted by every person working in local public services: “I will redouble my efforts to explain why public services are important because they offer a greater degree of public accountability. In the difficult debates on local budgets over the next year, I will make sure that I give...

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13 Dec 2012
Happy xmas from Eric Pickles!

Happy Xmas from Eric Pickles ! If press reports are true, it seems that Eric Pickles and the Coalition are hoping to outlaw council tax rises for next year. According to the local government press today, DCLG officials are frantically trying to draw up emergency legislation to prevent councils raising council tax next year. The “stick” would be the threat of Government withdrawing revenue support grant to a council that tried to do so. This follows indications that almost a...

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“The End of Local Government As We Know It”? That’s the phrase coined by Albert Bore, highly experienced local government figure and leader of the largest council in the country, Birmingham, in announcing up to £600m cuts in services over the next few years. Is he right ? Surely this must be a polemical exaggeration, you may think. But I tend to think that yes, he is probably right. Localism ? No, centralism gone mad Other respected local government commentators,...

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7 Sep 2012
Localism or passing the blame?

This Government, like many before it, is good at blaming everyone else for the nation’s troubles. But it has also developed a cynical new technique: invent a reactionary policy, then under the guise of localism, make local councils responsible for implementing it. I have spent a lot of time in the last few months working with councils who are struggling to implement grim cuts in council tax benefits caused quite deliberately as a matter of policy by the Government. Up...

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