Oh dear, does that sound like too much of a tabloid headline? This one is about local government. Who are they serving?
You may remember me mentioning a project I was at one point on the fringes of, to buy a local farm. Well, I decided to stay on the fringes to preserve my sanity and to focus on projects closer to home.
The team in Kings Langley went ahead and have tried to buy it. It is currently owned by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC). So effectively its owned by the public. Already.
So, what should local government do if the public want it as a community farm, low cost housing and a training / conference centre? What should local government do if the public are willing to stump up £1.9 million from their own collective pockets to buy it? Effectively to buy it, I remind you, from themselves.
Turns out they decided to sell it to the highest bidder. It will be interesting to see who that is. Farm land round here is at a premium because of rich folks from London buying the land to keep horses. Is that who has bought the farm? Will the new owner allow the community to use the land?
I’m not going to sit hear on my sofa and say that the decision from HCC was bad, or short-sighted. I don’t know what services they will be able to now provide that would have otherwise been unfunded. I don’t know anything about the new owner elect. I will be very interested to find out.
Depending on the answer to those questions, the finger of guilt may point towards the reasons behind local government being strapped for cash. Is it the policy of reducing the size of government? Is it the policies that lead to are high national debt in the first place? Is it the excesses of the banking sector that lead to the financial collapse? Is the new owner a banker?
There is a parallel with another aspect of local government decision making. Fracking. The blame rests with the Tories for that. Big cuts to budgets leads to impoverished councils. So to then to offer the councils a wodge of cash to allow fracking is a lot like racketeering in my view. Blackmail.
In the meantime, those wonderful people who formed Kings Langley Community Benefit Society have brought the people of their town and its surrounds together. I’ll be very excited to see where their energies take them next. Well done Vicky and Jean-Paul in particular.