The recent announcement by RCT Council that they are considering cutting a number of front line services including libraries, day centres, meals on wheels, youth provision and full time nursery education has, it is fair to say, caused a bit of a stir.
On the plus side it has acted as a wake up call for many who for the first time are taking some sort of interest in what is it that their local Council actually does. What this in turn has done is show up the shocking lack of knowledge the majority of people have about the system of government in this country and just who is responsible for what. It is not their fault, after all politics is a bit of a turn off for many, and the institution doesn’t make it very easy for the average person in the street to get to grips with it. In Wales devolution muddies the waters even more.
I have said for some time that politics should be taught in schools. Not party politics of course but the way it all operates. Who runs our schools, who is responsible for the health service, who pays out benefits, how does it all knit together?
People cannot hope to get fully involved and make real change unless they understand where changes need to be made. There is a very well meaning debate going on via a Facebook group about what alternatives can be put forward to the cuts being proposed by the Labour administration, and there are some very good thoughts there. However, it is also being taken off track in a number of instances by people talking about merging wards and cutting the number of Councillors, cutting MPS allowances, not sending money abroad, stopping free bus passes and free prescriptions for all. All worthy debates to be had but nothing that is within the control of the Council and nothing that can help them make the savings they need to.
Knowledge is power so they say, and we should be providing the knowledge so that everyone can have an informed input into who holds the reins of power.