Eric Pickles: comedian (part 2)

After part 1 comes part 2 – a speech to the LGA:

It was a bit like local government was a fifteen year old girl with really strict parents.
They let you go down the dance for the first time.

But then totally cramped your style by parking round the corner to watch what you were up to and made you go home at half past nine.

Not so much ‘total place’. More like ‘know your place’.

I don’t want to be the Dad hanging round the corner. You can get yourselves down the dance. You can stay out all night if you want. Let your hair down – before it all goes like mine.

It’s obviously just a style thing. But on a topic like Total Place (or what might replace it), which Pickles himself says is considered hugely important by the PM, the Deputy PM and the Chancellor, I’d have liked to see something more serious.

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Total Place under the Tories

The Total Place initiative was a significant development in local government policy over the last term of the Labour government. Details about what Total Place is and what it’s seeking to achieve are here.

I have a professional interest in Total Place because I see the Right to Control – a significant transformation project that aims to bring together several funding streams which provide choice and control for disabled people – as a kind of Total Place for disabled people. (I’m involved in the Right to Control Trailblazer in Essex, more details of which are here, and on which I’ll be blogging in more detail soon.)

So it’s interesting to read John Tizard’s view on whether Total Place will survive under the Tories.

His view is that, though the Total Place agenda aligns with many of the coalition government’s policies and intentions, there are some other changes arising from the localist agenda which may undermine Total Place. These include the evolving role of PCTs, academies and free schools, and the possibility of elected police commissioners. Thus, Total Place will need to reinvent itself and ensure these increasingly autonomous partners work together locally, based within a framework that enables/makes this happen between the centre and localities.

In many ways, Tizard’s views echo Stef’s post on localism yesterday. His conclusion was that:

[W]hat is appropriately local will vary from circumstance to circumstance. In most cases very strong incentives will be needed to foster the collaboration between localities and at the moment there are neither the ideas nor the funds to support this.

My interpretation (hardly unique or insightful though it is) of both Tizard and Stef’s views is that the very nature of localism means it will be driven forward by effective leaders in some areas and not in others. The challenge for the centre is thus ensuring that localism benefits everyone in a given locality to some minimum level whilst enabling others to go further if they want to.

Whether this moves us into a post-bureaucratic age, or one of fairness for all – two further drivers of the coalition government – are moot points.