2. Ways of reacting
Broader arguments are based on general principles, or on our perceptions. Since I can’t make an informed choice about what to cut, or how to find alternative funding, I’ve got to make my priorities clear in other ways. Maybe I can outline a few broader principles that explain why I’d oppose these cuts, and why I’d support others.
I can point to a variety of broader principles. In general, I want open access to resources. I like transparency, Freedom of Information, free access to OS data, and so on. I try to operate on a cooperative, collegiate basis, and do what I can to promote community-driven sharing. I value efforts toward ecological sustainability; toward social cohesion, grass-roots democracy; toward whole-impact accounting and accountability. I believe the outdoors is an important resource in social cohesion, in understanding our relationship with the world, learning to deal with wider circumstances, and enjoying where we are.
From that perspective, Rangers are important facilitators of access to the public landscape, and I oppose the potential loss of that access. With those in mind I could probably identify things I’d rather cut first, and alternative ways of generating funds. But I need the council to do the work of identifying resources and impacts.
As for perceptions, we are motivated in part by the way things seem to be, even if there’s scant evidence for it. I perceive parks to be safer when there are park keepers and rangers about. I would argue for maintaining the perception of safety. Councillors seem to be swayed by this sort of argument, so it’s worth making.
Likewise, councillors can be swayed by displays of feeling. I’m more lairy of this approach, especially when it degrades into angry jousting. In practical terms, approaches based on feelings can be described as those which
- make politicians less popular (not a very effective strategy),
- making them more popular (great when it works, but how often is that?), or
- make it very clear there will be dramatic knock-on effects of a particular decision.
That’s the one to go for. No councillor wants to see their ward turn into a tip, or a no-go area. And they are rightly uneasy when constituents make their discomfort clear. So I reckon part of this approach is to make an emotive case for preserving integrity of the public realm. With that in mind let’s look at ways of drawing attention to knock-on effects with some emotional impact.
These are off-the-cuff ideas. Don’t take them to heart. They’re just examples of effects the cuts might have on your public parkland. You can come up with your own just as easily.