kortirion_among_the_trees: (Looking Out)
[personal profile] kortirion_among_the_trees
This is one of the most important summative pieces to have appeared in a long time.  It goes to the root of absolutely everything: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n24/tom-crewe/the-strange-death-of-municipal-england  For years now I've had the feeling that I'm living in a post-apocalyptic landscape, amidst crumbling ruins where nothing works - and this is why.  And with every passing year the scale of the collapse becomes more and more stark.  The only suitable analogy I can think of is Eastern Europe post-1989 (minus the crime) - how long will it take before we reach that level?  There is no question that it's only a matter of time (to be hastened by Brexit, whenever it finally happens).

Viewing it from the perspective of my period - the golden age of local government* - puts the current state of affairs in a particularly tragic light.  It's a pity the article doesn't admit the many failures of municipal governnment in its glory days: the corruption, the mismanagement, the inhumanity.  That would have made the portrait much more nuanced.  But overall, its benefits unquestionably outweighed its deficiencies, and its destruction is indeed tantamount to the destruction of functioning society.  'Sliding off a cliff' indeed.

(*Oh the happy hours I have spent reading about the LCC and the politics of School Board elections and satires of municipal socialism and Chamberlain's destruction of small Birmingham businesses...  As Kipling said, 'what should they know of [21st c.] England who only [21st c.] England know?' Even the fraction of its past that I'm familiar with is enough to realise how tremendous has been the loss, the hollowing out.  Virtually all the things that 'made England great' - which is to say, all the things that gave genuine grounds for hope in a time that was in many respects even more barbaric, and certainly as ideologically nasty as our own - are gone.  But hey, who needs to know about that stuff when you can just blame immigrants?)

Date: 2016-12-16 05:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] parrot-knight.livejournal.com
A relative complains rightly of the new 'local development trusts' which are proposed to make inhabitants of new housing estates jointly responsible for infrastructure and green spaces, as this is what local government should be for.

Date: 2016-12-16 09:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arda-unmarred.livejournal.com
I remember driving through Prague with a tour guide a few years ago and she was pointing out all the dilapidated buildings in the city centre, strangely interspersed with ones in perfectly good repair - she explained that this was because the buildings' upkeep is the inhabitants' responsibility, so if they're going to crumble, they're going to crumble, and clearly local government had completely retreated from this area of public provision. I only have her word for it, but the kind of thing you're describing is even worse - it's a direct road into full blown dystopia, with tumbleweed blowing through the streets. It's one thing when a residents' association in a rich neighbourhood is responsible for some local landscaping; it's quite another when communities are deprived of all infrastructure support.

Date: 2016-12-16 06:31 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] suzy ash (from livejournal.com)
i'm working for a local Council at the moment, can give you an inside view :)

Date: 2016-12-16 09:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] arda-unmarred.livejournal.com
Oh, I didn't realise! Is your council separate from Cambridge?

Date: 2016-12-16 09:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] suzy ash (from livejournal.com)
yeah, unfortunately, i'm not working in Guildhall :) area all around Cambridge is a seoarate council

Date: 2016-12-18 10:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] colinbj.livejournal.com
It's allegedly one of the best places to live in England, according to 'a recent study'?


My block of flats (on Oxford's Woodstock Road, not exactly an impoverished area) bought our freeholds soon after it became possible a few years ago. Orwell got it right in Animal Farm: before long you realise you may be better off with a tyrant than in a failed state micro-democracy.

Date: 2016-12-16 06:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] suzy ash (from livejournal.com)
just recenly did a oresentation which had a slide showing central funding stream. It was a slide :)


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