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”

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?”

Why Britain might love its socialised healthcare to death

The National Health Service combines local heritage, British fair play and free, good-quality healthcare with the employment of more than one million people in England alone. That gives the NHS enormous popularity – and also makes it very difficult to reform.

Originally published on Beacon.

Continue reading “Why Britain might love its socialised healthcare to death”

Subeditor twisting my melon: Manchester headlines, get over the Smiths

It is a subeditor’s truth quite often acknowledged that articles about Greater Manchester, or about bands from the city, must shoe-horn in a song title or lyric from a Mancunian band. That’s fine, but for some reason, that band is almost always the Smiths, which broke up in 1987. This must change. Anyone would assume that all subeditors are miserablists. Continue reading “Subeditor twisting my melon: Manchester headlines, get over the Smiths”