Saturday, May 12, 2012

Swindon's Very Own Shock Doctrine

The stateside version of this, with some variances, covered on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show

If your streetlights have been broken for an age and the graffiti on your walls has now got moss growing on it, it could because of Swindon Councillors subscribing to the 'Shock Doctrine'.

The theory by-which governments push through major neo-conservative policies (privatisation, liberalisation of constraints on industry, simplifying government processes, etc) when a citizenry is in 'shock' from a disaster has and is happening in Swindon.

The disaster? The financial crisis, the credit crunch, the following recession, stalled recovery and now double-dip recession.

We're constantly being told, and have been, by the ruling councillors at Swindon Borough Council that there is not any money for basic services in the way they have been provided before.

How has this policy been followed? There's so many to mention -

- The privatisation of Swindon Commercial Services (the works department of the Council, now run to make a profit and wholly owned by Swindon Borough Council as an investment interest).

- The spinning-off of adult social care in Swindon to another organisation.

- The cutting back of hundreds of front-line staff in Swindon Borough Council, from libraries to park rangers.

- The administration of benefits to Swindon residents now provided by Capita, not Swindon Borough Council.

- The attempted privatisation of Swindon's entire assets of it's Council Housing stock. This was prevented after a vote by council house tenants.

- To a derived point, the Wi-Failed scheme. One of the numerous reasons given for the scheme was that the council now had to look at ways of producing revenue (making money).

- The latest, the transfer of green spaces to house-building companies.

- The transfer of the Oasis leisure centre and a chunk of land at North Star to a private investment company to refurbish the centre and build a snow dome and other leisure facilities, to be operated by them and not Swindon Borough Council.

Swindon Centric Says ; The constant banging of this drum of 'if we don't reduce our deficit it'll come and attack you in a lonely alleyway' is spin, as Swindon Borough Council seem happy-enough to run up record debts building infrastructure at Wichelstowe.

Why are Swindon Borough Councillors happy to spend money on easy things like roads and paths to tempt house builders, but won't work hard to come up with a detailed, costed, long-term, council-funded plan to rebuild assets?

Have our councillors become lazy and unknowledgeable? For Swindon, it should be renamed The Shock and Lazy Doctrine.

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