Even if we don’t “love” statistics, they are crucial for effective local services…
Why do you love stats? It is a tricky question that might not make your Valentine date melt with delight. The question is especially difficult if you weren’t in top set at school. (For the record I was bottom set maths, and only just scraped a pass following lots of after school tutoring). Anyway back to stats. Here at Red Potato, we’ve embraced statistics with the zeal that a former smoker embraces data on the dangers of passive smoking.
The reason for our zeal is because without data too many of the big political and economic decisions are made on “gut” instinct. Don’t worry I’m going to rehearse points made previously about Brexit, Trump election and Russian bots on Facebook. My point is that without statistics the less glamorous decisions that effect us locally on road improvements, changes to parking schemes, or where and why a company decides to locate, are determined by those who shout loudest.
Local decisions probably have more effect on our daily life than Brexit & Trump, yet without statistics, data and insight these local decisions would be made based on hunch and gut instinct. So, it really is in all our interests to look beyond the rhetoric and ask “where is your evidence for that statement?” And the answer to that question lies with lovely statistics!
We’ve all heard the phrase “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titantic”. The definition on Wiktionary is
“To do something pointless or insignificant that will soon be overtaken by events, or that contributes nothing to the solution of a current problem”
Many local councils are faced with an office estate which was designed in the last century, if not before and now frankly doesn’t really meet the needs of the business. However the buildings are often local icons – and if councils don’t occupy them, not many businesses would want them either. So we are left with a situation of reconfiguring a building when the inevitable staff and structure changes are made.
Once staff know whether they are keeping their job and where they fit in the new organisation chart, the next most important thing is where they will sit. At a time of great uncertainty knowing where we spend our working time is some comfort. Now you’ll remember that the stated reason for these changes is often the need to save money, but that didn’t take account of the building work, nor costs of redundancy, nor most importantly the changes in front line operations. So now we have a situation where untold staff time is spent worrying about their future (including worrying about the distance to the kitchen and who will maintain the tea fund), costs for putting up new partitions, costs for moving and testing kit, costs for building more “pods” for managers who “need” privacy and lots and lots of meetings.
Someone, somewhere should check whether all those savings really do materialise. A job for Audit Commission – hmm, maybe, but that’s been abolished! The only option left is the “Armchair Auditors” armed with their FOI requests!
…well that’s not quite true. Despite the name of our company Red Potato doesn’t do party politics, we are apolitical; we work with all the mainstream parties and none.
We are committed to improving things for local people. We are committed to working with people who want to challenge the way things are done. We also believe passionately in demonstrating the value of the work we do with the communities we serve.
If you recognise any of this, perhaps we should meet.
In the current environment of less public spend, it is even more important for local government to identify what is core business and what is done for small “p” political reasons – maybe the electorate would be more understanding if they could clearly follow L.Gov train of thought on these matters