This post is something like a train of thought, perhaps a series of thoughts, written out to help clarify it to myself for later use elsewhere. A much-reduced version, perhaps.
This one is not the least bit concise, nor particularly coherent. There are no ready answers, and no firm conclusions. I’d like to make it work extemporaneously, banging out short notes as easily as the thoughts arrive.
Or maybe it’s a train wreck of ideas. Anyway, onward.
1. What it’s about
Birmingham City Council (BCC) have proposed a 20% reduction in the parks and ranger services budget. The cuts are aimed at particular services; targeted cuts, rather than across the board. A letter from Cllr Lisa Trickett spells out the situation.
While this is pretty straightforward, it looks to me like they’ve picked the wrong targets.
Note that the proposals are just that: proposals. Note also that there’s no explanation why it’s these five, not some other bunch. For all I know these are random programmes drawn from the tombola of cuts. It makes me wonder how well considered they were. A bit later on I’ll think through possible effects. They seem to be chosen without much regard for effects, nor how effective or ineffective they are at maximising savings and quality of outcome. In short this looks like a cursory effort, a selection of cuts made without much thought or insight.
Frankly, any proposed cut ought to come with substantive explanation and evidence of forethought.
Not just an assessment of likely effects; I’d like to know what prompted this selection in relation to any others; what else could take the axe instead. Given that the proposed cuts show no evidence of forethought, I’d like to make some serious alternative proposals.
But I’m in no position to do that. I have no access to the thinking behind the proposed cuts. So I can’t say why they chose these targets instead of others, or vice versa, why other targets weren’t chosen. Likewise, I haven’t got access to data about the rest of BCC operations and budgets. So I can’t identify savings elsewhere. Nor can I propose credible alternative sources of funds. And so on.
These limitations are worth noting because it means my response to any consultation can only be speculative, rather than informed. This is pretty much where any member of the public stands. None of us are in a position to make arguments based on evidence. So we must use other ways of arguing our cause.