I travelled down to Bournemouth this morning to attend the annual Local Government Association conference. It’s a great chance to catch up with colleagues from Councils up and down the country; to learn how problems are being solved elsewhere, and to talk up the good work that’s going on in Kent.
As I write this blog, I’m listening to Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Local Government speaking about what he found when he took up office at Eland House in Victoria. He told us how comfortable the offices were, with his Labour predecessors having purchased 72 Parisian sofas at £4000 each, as well as a two storey ‘green love pod’ at around £70,000 to enable workers to achieve ‘ a good karma’.
His Ministerial predecessor managed to publish no less than 1200 publications in one year – including seventy four pages on how to fill in a particular form. Three of these sets of regulations governed tree preservation – “How many trees have had to be felled to print out these three sets of guidance?” he asked.
As time goes on, I suspect we’ll hear more and more odd anecdotes from the coalition about the “let them eat cake” mentality that pervaded our previous national Government as they increasingly asked the public to do as they said, not as they did.