The Big Question is – have we, the people of Suffolk, won? Jeremy Pemberton has gone. The new leader of the Council, Mark Bee, was elected on a promise of ‘reviewing’ the New Strategic Direction and engaging in a more extensive process of consultation. Andrea Hill looks like she is on the way out.
In many ways – all good news. However, one suspects that the lessons learnt are that the way you need to go about this has to change, not necessarily what it is you want to do. After all, you do have to think that the way the Council went about this was sensationally stupid. Why was there not even a basic plan, supported by proper research and analysis? Why on earth select libraries and lollypop ladies as your first targets for divestment? Why not consider the day-to-day impact on your ability to operate of essentially declaring the imminent redundancy of all of your staff? Crazy stuff.
Anyway – I am sure that the Council is still going to press ahead with the transference of huge areas of taxpayer funded responsibilities to the private sector. They are just going to do it with less ideological fanfare but probably still minimal consultation. We are still waiting for Serco. The real story behind the Big Society remains, only its presentation is likely to change.