THE COVERAGE of the Observer’s story on WSCC’s YouTube adventures has now extended to the national press as well as websites and the international media.
The story has raised two concerns, one of cost in times of national penury but more importantly, the attitude of the state, including local government, to the man in the street.
I have a lot of sympathy for West Sussex: the county’s tax payers and businesses were bled dry by the last government who pumped all the money to their tame councils ‘up North’. Sadly the Coalition does not appear to have the resources or the willpower to rebalance this perilous situation (check the subsidy per head in Nick Clegg’s home base of Sheffield compared with West Sussex). There is therefore all the more reason to question every pound that is spent. I’m sure the county will be able to continue to manage its affairs without resorting to the cost of YouTube and I’m sure the vast bulk of the electorate would agree to that.
I have the slightly surreal image of a county talking head, covering the need for ’tough’ decisions on spending and ending by saying, ‘by the way, this broadcast cost you £2,000’, or as a highways engineer might say, ‘ten filled potholes’
However my real concern is not necessarily the monies involved but the attitude behind why the county thinks it should produce a video about using a phone or how to wash your hands
Essentially this is the state continuing to interfere with the individual as it attempts to micro manage everyone one’s life. This has been a growing tendency over the past couple of decades, where we have been told what we can or cannot say, what size we should be, what we can drink or eat and how the state is better at spending our money, rather than ourselves.
All this has come at a cost, not just in money terms but with a burgeoning regime of officials who now seem to monitor our behaviour and absorb society’s time and energy to meet their often self created targets and aspirations.
The county is commendably trying to follow a real localism agenda, giving control back to individuals and communities. However, it is not possible to have a localism agenda, where the individual is supreme and at the same time nanny everyone about.
The county has removed the offending videos with alacrity; at least they are showing sensitivity to public concern.
My hope is that they will now regard the electorate as sensible adults and try to avoid any similar adventures.