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The street that cut everything

17th May 2011 Posted by

I read with interest Philip Johnston’s column in the Daily Telegraph last week where he previewed the new documentary “The street that cut everything”. The programme is hosted by the BBC’s Political Commentator Nick Robinson and centres on the idea of how local residents would cope if all their council services were cut for a six week period.

From Philip’s article I had presumed that the show would focus upon the legitimacy that public services should only be carried out by the public sector. However, what I saw last night from the public screening was, firstly, the need for coordinated and value for money services for the public and secondly, the complexity of the organisation associated with running these services which are not at all appreciated by the public.

Not surprisingly the first local service to be removed was refuse collection as this is the only universal service which all the public receive. The previous “out of sight, out of mind” mentality associated with this vital service was soon replaced with a sense of realisation as the residents struggled to maintain the sanitary nature of their street. The targets set by Government and implemented locally regarding recycling took on a refreshing reality. The residents became acutely aware of the need to segregate valuable materials not only to control the cost of this service through the sale of this material but to minimise their residual waste levels which face an ever increasing cost.

Street cleansing, another important public service, also got a look in with two of the residents forced to clean up the city centre on a weekend morning. I’ve always thought that if a short stint cleaning the streets was mandatory for all residents, then the cost of street cleansing would diminish rapidly and the money could be spent on more vital public services!

The Council Leaders must have gone to bed with a smile on their face knowing that at least the residents of that street would appreciate the services they deliver and see the legitimacy of Council as a coordinator for public services. As for the question raised by Philip Johnston as to who should provide these services; Public or Private, that’s a political decision. The important point that came out of it is that public services are efficient and real value for money.

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