Search This Blog

Sunday, 28 November 2010

I've been outed by the BBC as a fan of Big Society!

I've long stopped being worried about speaking in public. I've also now done several radio and TV interviews and of course with help from my friend Nik written and presented my own series on a Sky channel.

But the BBC felt somehow different. I was interviewed for this week's BBC One Politics Show (the BBC East) version. My brief was to explain why I think Big Society is about much more than saving the Government money and persuading Britain's good folk to volunteer to deliver public services. 

So the first half of the programme (the national bit) had big names including Norman Lamont talking about big issues like Ireland's national insolvency. Then it was teenage pregnancy in Great Yarmouth and then Big Society. I appeared after a grumpy, cynical trade unionist and was followed by Phillip Blond, Mr Big Society himself!

What surprised me was the mounting anxiety as the moment neared. How had I been edited? Would I be presented in a positive way or as an idealist, out of touch with reality? Of course it was fine and tomorrow afternoon's BBC Look East will have me re-edited to respond to the comments phoned in after today's broadcast.

The thing is, Big Society is a huge opportunity for everyone to make sure that what happens in their locality is what needs to happen, rather than what some centrally generated Government policy prescribes. It's common sense and very exciting. And now the BBC have outed me as a Big Society enthusiast, I can't wait to see what happens next!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Be nice to a bureaucrat today!

I recently wrote a newspaper column about my experience of 'Big Society' . In it I mentioned the fact that the team at Norfolk County Council's Children's Services are making a huge effort to adapt to the fast changing environment. Traditionally schools and local authorities rarely agree on everything and too often the relationship becomes rather adversarial.

Here in Norfolk I'm working with a school to create a 'Big Society' solution to their urgent need of a new campus. The way school and local authority are working together with my help to create the best result, involving both private and third sector partners is breathtaking. It's a pleasure to witness the enthusiasm with which both teams are looking for the pragmatic middle ground between safe but slow bureaucratic process and edgy, innovative new ways of working. Good governance must be maintained, but so too must opportunities be grasped before they disappear.

Feedback from County Hall suggests that my column was well received and rightly so. It's too easy to default to past mindsets and be critical, missing the fact that times have changed. Everyone is in the same boat now, anxious about the inevitable change, but also excited by what the future holds.

So before you start complaining, kicking and undermining the bureaucrats in your life, think again. Recognise how times are changing and try being nice to them instead. You'll be surprised by what happens!