If you want to monitor local authorities, we’ll ask the locals for you

Local authorities matter. They provide many of the most basic public services: schools, roads, refuse collections and recycling, social services, planning and benefits administration. They are the part of government you would notice first, if they stopped working. In many areas of Britain, a council is the largest employer, and with their elected members, local authorities are arguably the most democratic type of public sector organisation.

But they are tricky to follow. Journalists trying to cover councils nationally suffer from being based mainly in one place, London, from lack of resources and from the sheer number of authorities.

The exceptions are journalists who work for locally-focused publishers. Despite falling advertising and circulation income, it is still local and regional newspapers, broadcasters and online publishers that produce the best coverage of local authorities.

As a result, while it is easy to keep tabs on your own council, if you want to track local authorities nationwide – as a councillor or official keen to learn from your peers, or a supplier seeking new opportunities – you would need to monitor many hundreds of sources.

So let Council News Monitor do the job for you. It’s a new email service, sent first thing every weekday morning, with articles and press releases from councils in all nine English regions, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland – or, as the four nations can safely be called again, the United Kingdom. Continue reading “If you want to monitor local authorities, we’ll ask the locals for you”

How Scotland’s NHS would be affected by a yes vote

Scotland has controlled its own health services since devolution in 1999, but independence could affect policy and funding

How would social care be different in an independent Scotland?

Today and tomorrow, I will be writing updates on Scotland’s referendum on independence every few hours for Beacon. To clarify, in the title ‘The end of Britain, possibly – LIVE!’, Britain refers to the country also known as the UK, not the islands we’re sitting on just off the north-west coast of Europe…

Whatever happens, the sun is going to rise over the islands tomorrow morning. Possibly behind some clouds, but that’s normal.

Below is my piece for Guardian Healthcare Professionals, published on Tuesday, looking at how NHS Scotland may fare under independence. Continue reading “How Scotland’s NHS would be affected by a yes vote”

Scottish independence & IT: skilled immigrants yes, banks no?

With a week to go to the vote on Scottish independence, The Register has published a lengthy piece by me on the potential impact of independence on ICT companies and professionals.

The most interesting argument from the yes side is that an independent Scotland could allow more skilled immigration, although doing so could conflict with its aim of keeping an open border with the new UK. On the no side, there are worries about currency, VAT, EU membership (of both Scotland and the new UK), the end of the Royal Mail universal service obligation, you name it. Continue reading “Scottish independence & IT: skilled immigrants yes, banks no?”

Britain and Greater Manchester – both torn apart by Margaret Thatcher?

My latest two articles on Beacon have a theme: things torn apart by Margaret Thatcher.

The first is Britain itself, and obviously that has not happened – yet. But if Scotland votes for independence in September, Mrs Thatcher’s decision to test the poll tax in Scotland first will have played a part. Continue reading “Britain and Greater Manchester – both torn apart by Margaret Thatcher?”

Aberdeen’s NHS centre for Guardian; its views on referendum for Beacon

Two articles on Aberdeen, one for the Guardian’s Society section, one kicking off my Ends of Britain series on Beacon. The Guardian piece focuses on the Aberdeen health village, a newly-opened NHS Grampian centre in the city centre. It’s of interest because it is the first to be funded by the Scottish Futures Trust, Scotland’s antidote to PFI funding. The detail is in the article, but essentially the public sector is involved on both the customer and supplier sides. Continue reading “Aberdeen’s NHS centre for Guardian; its views on referendum for Beacon”