Posted by: davidjmarlow | 17/06/2011

Absurd, Brainless, Contrived…an ABC of Pickles approach to local government

Why self-respecting councils will NOT wish to be ‘damned with the faint praise’ of the current Secretary of State

When Eric Pickles announced his ‘ABC of can-do councils’ as Adur, Bury and Cornwall, I suspect Leaders and Chief Executives at places like Ashford, Bolton and Cumbria, breathed a sigh of relief. Sadly this ‘naming and shaming’ epitomises Pickles sorry tenure at CLG.

Don’t get me wrong, I know Cornwall well and believe it is a rapidly improving council that has many magnificent qualities. I am less familiar with Adur and Bury, but am sure they are similarly impressive. It’s just that the being ‘damned with the faint praise’ of the Local Government Secretary of State brings me out in clichés – “with friends like these…”

Pickles’ choice of an abc is meaningless. The criteria he singles out for the three councils is nothing to do with localism, community empowerment or well-being improvement. Rather he focuses on sharing and cutting senior management, and tackling blue badge abuse – valuable managerial approaches perhaps, but hardly, of themselves, at the forefront of progressive local development.

There is an arbitrary contrivance of finding councils beginning with a, b, c… but no real comparative rationale of why these councils are selected as opposed to any other exemplars. And there is no sense of how councils actually define and achieve excellence and a can-do approach.

Shallow and superficial, with neither the content nor part of a process that helps our sector move forward and deliver change. To end with another cliché, the sooner we reach the x, y, z… of Mr Pickles’ tenure at Eland House…


  1. Thanks for Highlighting this David sure it will lead to a rush to fill the alphabet gaps in good practice – or not!

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