Just before Christmas I got caught out by what must be the public sector equivalent of the time share scam.
You know the sort of thing, shiny brochure lands on the doorstep, or in this case, in the Inbox and before you know it, you’ve parted with your cash and your eagerly awaiting the opportunity to sample what you’ve bought. Then you actually get there and very quickly realise that you’ve been had, it was all BS and bling and all you’ve got is a fancy venue and a shiny folder with next to nothing worth having in it.
My somewhat ham-fisted analogy, refers to a must attend seminar in London, offering to give me the inside story on the Localism Bill and how it would affect the way councils do planning. This should have been just the job, after all it was scheduled to take place only a couple of weeks after the Localism Bill was published and one of the speakers was to be somebody involved in the whole process, the Chief Planning Officer. One small problem; the bill was delayed, so what should have been a major piece of information transfer turned out to be various speakers waffling their way around a subject they either couldn’t talk about in any detail or didn’t know about because it hadn’t been published.
Since the end of the recent festivities, I must have had at least another half a dozen invitations to attend other ‘must attend’ events.
Apart from the fact that many of these events have a starting price of at least £299 (plus VAT of course) and some much higher, what really gets to me is their claims to be offering some really expert and invaluable insight in to the latest government thinking. Trouble is, the government doesn’t actually seem to know what it’s thinking itself, especially when it comes to local government and the planning system, so what gives these so-called experts a view in to the unknown – psychic powers?
The 200+ clauses in the Localism Bill are still just that from what I’ve seen – clauses. No meat on the bones yet; in fact hardly any bones!
The people churning out all this cyber trash must have missed the bit about 20%+ cuts in local government grant funding and therefore think that the local government cash cow is still ripe for milking.
The lesson to be learned from this? Save the taxpayer some money and don’t attend anything claiming to give you a head start on government policy until at least 6 months after it has been published. In fact maybe don’t bother at all, after all localism is supposed to be about making up as you go along; just as long as you do it locally!