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Monday, 9 February 2015

Misdirected Debate

Yesterday's post about using procurement processes to push the London Living Wage, reminds me of a problem that has often struck me about political debates.  They are so frequently misdirected on to the wrong subjects.

In the case of the Public Realm Contract, there was a lot of publicity aimed at excluding one particular contractor.  This went on even after it was made perfectly clear that excluding that company would be legally and logistically impossible.  In fact, the campaigners were effectively proposing that Veolia be given a lot of extra money at Brent Council's expense. 

In pursuing this futile campaign, they also ignored the many benefits of the public realm contract, including reasonably radical ones like enforcing the London Living Wage.  Even after the contract was through, the campaigners showed no further interest in how it worked.  This means that the scrutiny of such matters is sporadic, and often occurs far too late to influence the process.

For example, there has been little attention paid to the current Brent budget proposals to eliminate street cleaning in the majority of Brent streets.  Stopping that proposal now would probably save a lot of trouble later on, as I am sure that if it goes ahead the Council will be forced into a u-turn at great expense.  Yet it looks as if it will be nodded through, and the controversy will only be stirred up once it is actually implemented.

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