Public accountability.

In the early 90s I was a senior manager in local government in England.

We had a reputation for innovation in trying to respond to community needs. I sometimes sailed ‘close to the wind and on one of these occasions I was disciplined for breaking the rules.

Towards the end of the financial year I realised there was money underspent in one of our budgets that would be lost.

Rather than lose the money as it couldn’t be carried over the year end, I identified computer equipment we could buy for a new project we were setting up to promote access to computers and training for disabled people.

I quickly contacted three companies that could supply the equipment to get verbal quotes . Chose the best price and company got a formal written quote and agreed, we could go ahead.

In my rush, the mistake I made was not to get formal written quotes from all the companies.

I was investigated and at ‘the hearing’ I was put on ‘final warning.’I completely accepted I’d broken the rules and should have been punished. As public servants, responsible for significant budgets, providing quality services and the health and safety of our service users and teams we are and should be fully accountable.

Why do I share this with you now?

I can see political personal and institutional corruption at the highest level in the U.K. and I wonder how the guilty will be held accountable.

Just look at this.

austerity rules!

I know it’s not fashionable but loved working for local government in the UK from 1986 for twelve years. It was a real challenge, government always is,  but felt we made some radical changes and I made a significant contribution whether it was funding innovative not-for profits, getting to grasp with environmental impact through agenda 21, consulting local people and dramatically changing services for minority communities and especially disabled people. That was then, now it’s in a dismal state.

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It’s often useful to see how others see us. Check this article.

“The disaster in Northamptonshire did not arise from nowhere. Since 2010, when David Cameron became Prime Minister, Britain’s Conservative-led governments have responded to the impacts of the global financial crisis with a program of austerity. In line with other European countries (but unlike the U.S. and China, which passed stimulus packages), the U.K has sought to manage its debts and repair its economy with a relentless trimming of public spending. For the past eight years, these cuts have presented a complicated picture. In some areas, like education and health, budgets haven’t actually gone down; they have just failed to keep up with the needs of a diverse, growing population. But central funding for the nation’s four hundred and eighteen local authorities—Britain’s busy quilt of local government—has fallen by fifty per cent.”

YES, we struggled to meet the changing and growing needs over twenty years ago and now there is far less money available. It’s a scandal.

here is the full article

How can cycling grow in India?

Cycling is still seen by many in India as poor people’s activity. We are however seeing a slow but dramatic increase in cycling, particularly amongst young people. If this follows the trend seen elsewhere cycling will hopefully grow with more and more people from all sectors of society joining in. This will bring tremendous benefits for our personal health, the environment and the community in general. Yet as we see from this article the conditions for city cycling are getting worse and this disproportionately affects the poorer people in society. So what can we as keen cyclists do about it?

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/terra-india/2013/oct/24/indian-cyclists-squeezed-out-of-cities