Friday, 12 August 2011
This blog post can be read at 5tth.blogspot.com
You can throw bureaucracy at us until you are blue in the face. Regulations such as H&S, ASA, Ofcom, VOA, etc etc are no longer scary. If one thing has come out of the riots, it should be that 'authority' needs to realise that its barriers are weak and destructible.
Especially when these restrictions have no reason to be there. I am NOT condoning the riots in any shape or form, but I am saying that if you keep putting unnecessary barriers in our way to allow sensible things to happen in our neighbourhoods, you will face community people who are determined to do what is right.
I don't mean this in an anarchic manner, I mean it in a Big Society /Our Society manner. I sat in a room with Nat Wei when he said we in Cumbria should JFDI and ask for forgiveness later. None of us are planning to break laws. All we are trying to do is connect people and protect MILLIONS of POUNDS of public money from being unnecessarily wasted. Cumbria has already seen this happen once with £19M+ thrown at Project Access (NWDA and Commendium received the bulk of it). The citizens are not willing to see that happen again.
You CANNOT shut our public toilets for the sake of a few hundred pounds a year, and throw millions at poorly thought out broadband projects. What sort of electorate would we be if we permitted you to do that?
The entire reason for the BDUK funding was to look at "innovative rural pilots". The idea was to find potential solutions and run with them, whether they worked or not; we were going to suck it and see.
The intention was NEVER EVER to try to solve other existing problems within county councils' IT systems. It was to solve the Final Third and to see if there was, perchance, a solution for the last 10-30% who need internet connectivity to move the economy and society forwards.
The last few days have proven that society is in a place many of us had failed to recognise. A hell hole. It may be quiet tonight but now an entire generation, and others, know that all you need is 50 or so people and the fabric of this once great country in any locality begins to crumble.
Scary? Yes, and so it should be. We have undermined the structure of this country for so long, hidden behind rules and regulations, pushed hard working and valuable individuals to the extremities of society. For what? So that councillors can earn their pension? So consultants and their chums can cash in our ever-decreasing public coffers? And so that the seriously concerned community activists are undermined at every turn? [Feel free to add your 2p]
What we must do now is open the channels of communication so that this society moves back to the places all of us wish it to be.
STOP trying to spend money for the sake of it because it must be spent by April/October etc. Spend money where it should be spent.
STOP bringing in consultants whose only concern is their next skiing holiday. Bring in those who care about the community.
STOP overpaying for information. If you need to pay to find out how a sink estate thinks, don't fund a consultant; pay the residents of the sink estate.
START using the people who know what is needed in their communities. Employ and pay the community leaders.
START asking real people what they want.
START using the resources in any community - Parish Councils, local newsletters, citizen journalists, press and radio.
START to look at what is actually required: educate the community with demos and videos. Then, and only then ask them what they may want.
START to engage the community bodies so that there is a voice for local people. Demonstrating in Westminster is not an option for 99% of the populace - give them a voice.
START to force councils to work on a push not pull mentality. Go OUT to the people and hear them where they are willing to talk. Don't expect folk to play your game in your chamber. Go and listen instead.
START to JFDI. Whatever it is that you believe in. Do It. Every fantastic project ever has come from an individual's passion. Not from a budget decision. If you care about it in your community, JFDI.