Tuesday, 27 October 2015

What About Politics?

Where does Politics come into Blacka Moor?

Well we’ve seen where Economics comes in: jobs, farm subsidies, contracts for fencing and much else.

Philosophy as well: - man’s relations with the natural world the value of wildness, respect for wildlife etc.

It’s said that P.P.E. rules Britain (Politics, Philosophy and Economics)**. Even on Blacka? Just like everywhere else.


Now the 'dirty word': politics, and we should never forget that party politics is only a small part of it –though the so-and-so’s do get everywhere. But politics is everyday, certainly not just for professionals. Even those who wash their hands and say they want nothing to do with any of it are making political and philosophical statements. They may be the most important of all because they form a pool of tacit support that senior management relies on. Managers love apathy. The apathetic don’t ask questions.

But why not think about the local politics of Blacka Moor. There's a big politics of course at national and even international level but let's stick to the local for now. This is an important anniversary. Exactly two years ago the present Sheffield administration (Labour) abolished Community Assemblies and replaced them with a different form of ‘locality management’. Blacka Moor is in a Sheffield City ward along with other large areas of moorland owned by the public. The Community Assembly meetings gave an opportunity for citizens to raise matters before councillors and officers relating to what goes on in one of the local wards. When the Community Assemblies were abolished we lost the chance to hold both officers and councillors to account. We knew the ‘locality management’ would not work like that. It was carefully designed to protect the Council from a level of public scrutiny. It’s easy to imagine that when this happened two years ago almost to the day that town hall officers’ desks were festooned with flags and celebratory music was played. Not that Community Assemblies were perfect but it was the opportunities given to local people that were most disliked by the bureaucrats and their top-downing friends amongst elected members. Being held to account in a public forum was not their idea of a picnic.

Despite all the talk about community empowerment and public engagement and putting the people in the driving seat all the kind of trendy stuff that officers used to love to talk about, when they saw it beginning to happen, and realised what it might develop into they soon got cold feet. And the more Stalinist of the local politicians were on their side.

So what did we lose? The chance of getting answers on road safety issues, planning matters, public transport and the management of parks and countryside for example. And the latter would have included members of the public telling the senior officers in Culture, Environment and Countryside that it’s just not acceptable to make statements that seriously mislead the public. 


** http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11136511

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