The sound of silence

Why is it that the views of Hillingdon staff have not been heard?

Because they are not allowed to comment on the plans. Many haven’t even seen them.

Why should they be, Pete? As public servants shouldn’t they just do as they’re told?

Well, no. As adults and citizens they should be as free as  anyone involved to publicly discuss the plans and their impact. edit Council confidentiality is one thing. Of course things should be discussed within the council first.  But, not sharing plans with those they will impact, and not allowing them to comment on them is quite another thing; it robs them of any chance to meaningfully engage with the changes./edit

This is not people being resistant to change, or just trying to protect their jobs at the expense of ‘the taxpayer’*-rather people being concerned about the service they deliver and how it is being represented, and how it will be affected by the proposed changes.

* They are taxpayers too, as are their families. Me too for that matter. When someone meets “The Taxpayer”, can they let me know- I’d love to talk to them.


6 Responses to The sound of silence

  1. Miriam Palfrey says:

    UNISON have plans to go to the press with what they know, they are awaiting details of The Coates Report but it’s not clear whether they will be able to access it via the Freedom of Information Act.

    I agree, it’s all very ironic seeing as TC constantly claims that libraries should be more transparent in their management of public funds.

  2. Pete says:

    Well, the FoI Act is so woolly I wouldn’t be surprised if they can’t see it.

  3. Michael says:

    Ladies and gentlemen, behold this snippet from Coates’ blog:

    “Anyhow, everything I say or write about public libraries is on the record and available under the freedom of information act.”

    Now, this *could* be a fundamental misunderstanding of what FOIA is for on Coates’ part: as a private individual, FOIA is as relevant to his work as the proverbial bicycle is to the fish. That’s certainly how I interpreted his statement when I first read it. On the other hand, a gentle reminder of his position on the free availability of his opinion might prompt him to pony up the goods or – sharp intake of breath – admit his own error.

  4. Pete says:

    I think he’d say that the report for Hillingdon is not ‘about public libraries’ in the broader sense but is a specific set of recommendations.
    That said as a piece of advice to a public body it *should* be available under FOIA.

  5. Michael says:

    Not necessarily. There are exemptions within FOIA, which remove the necessity to provide information. I have a feeling that this one might cover Hillingdon 2.0:

    “the information is held by the public authority with a view to its publication, by the authority or any other person, at some future date (whether determined or not)”

    I bet they intend to publish it sooner or later, in Update or as a piece of glossy Council news, or at a conference, or something. That’s what I’d do, anyway.

  6. Pete says:

    “Well, the FoI Act is so woolly I wouldn’t be surprised if they can’t see it.”

    Seems I was right 😉 So they ‘might’ share it soon, so they don’t need to share it now.

    The issue here though isn’t what Tim Coates presented to the council. That’s between him and them.

    It is more that council workers have been prevented from speaking, whilst the council has been able to present its views of the project. Whatever the rights and wrongs, it seem unfair that those most affected by the changes have been least able to be involved with them.

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