Monday, May 31, 2010

5 Years of 50 Promises - Style & Substance

The local council elections gave the ruling Conservatives the opportunity to carry out a cabinet reshuffle, giving Councillor Dale Heenan (Conservative, Covingham & Nythe) responsibility for Policy & Performance, including assessment of the 50 Promises made back in 2005.

A look back at them has been made on TalkSwindon, so I won't repeat that here. Reading of the 'official' review of them will be fascinating indeed. A look back at them from 2005 shows how the 'appearance is everything' era of the Swindon Conservatives started. Now we're use to the presidential-style rule of Councillor Rod Bluh (Dorcan) and how the appearance of doing something is more important than actually doing something, the 'all fur coat and no knickers' syndrome.

The appearance of signs on hoardings at the Central Library during construction work, or the old Railway Museum whilst refurbishment took place and no-doubt many other places, with the relevant promise emblazoned, e.g. 'Promise 26 We will have a new Central Library by 2008' was to remind us that the council were getting good work done.

Certainly PR, but patronising all the same. In the fog of this PR it is easy to lose the attributes of which promises were the council being effective and which were part of national programmes or prevously planned schemes.

This era of taking credit for national schemes (school rebuilding) or local plans set in motion before the 50 Promises was conceived (Lydiard Park restoration) continues to this day, as anyone who may have received local councillor leaflets in the last election will find if they unwind the language used.

Swindon Centric Says ; Will the wi-fi scheme sit in the new 50 promises list, and be emblazoned on leaflets at the next election?

Re-elect your local councillor, he got you a new school (out of his hands, part of a national government project), rebuilt your favourite park (instigated by the park's management and paid for by Heritage Lottery Funds) and put in place traffic calming (planned by the traffic management department, who are, you know, do it for a living), so re- elect him! For all that achievement in your ward, by others.

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