It’s the time of year again, when councils up and down the country are telling themselves how wonderful they are for being shortlisted for the Local Government Chronicle Awards 2017. In a swathe of categories – such as Children’s Services, Community Involvement, Digital Council of the Year – councils can spend time (and residents’ council tax money) on putting together snappy applications on why they should be shortlisted for another glass award to sit in Chief Exec trophy cabinets up and down the country.
In reality, we suspect that there’s something rather different going on. In those 19 categories, there are around 5-6 councils shortlisted, so plenty of good news to go around. And, of course, if your council is nominated, you absolutely have to be there to pick up your award, so that’s a table for ten you’ll need to book straight away. No prices are mentioned, but if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it. Judging is by a motley crew of other council Chief Execs and sponsor big cheeses, including all five foot nothing of our very own Paul Najsarek who’s now in Ealing following his brief sojourn in the north.
Oh, where is it, you say? That’ll be the Grovesnor House Hotel on London’s Park Lane – what Google describes as a “grand hotel with gourmet dining.” And what, after a night of telling your fellow Chief Execs how great they all are, perhaps you’d like to stay over, which will cost you around £300 per room (including breakfast) for a Deluxe King room, and knocking on for £500 if sir would like a suite. For those chief execs partial to watching badgers, we hear the Hyde Park Rose Garden offers unrivaled facilities a mere 11 minutes walk away.
So, what did Harrow get shortlisted for? Being “entrepreneurial”, apparently. Which has bugger all to do with sweeping the streets and emptying the bins. And “innovation”, which has nothing to do with protecting kids from abuse, supporting victims of domestic violence or helping the homeless. Which possibly says Harrow Council is pretty crap at all of that, but does run a mean MOT bay.
The other element of this, of course, is that it’s sponsored by all kinds of public sector names: Grant Thornton, Capita, Reed Employment, and so on. So it’s looking like a thinly veiled marketing scheme, designed to introduce those sponsors’ top sales people to a number of inebriated council decision makers, who’s only aim is to pass their CVs around, and see what job vacancies there are in other councils where they can come in, change their mind about moving house to be in the local area, and then get a fat payoff to bugger off back down south again.
And those councils who didn’t get shortlisted for anything? We’re sure your time will come: either hire our Sir Lockwood to fill in a few forms, or keep on booking tables, and who knows what might happen.