PUBLIC SERVICE IN THE NEWS | Privatisation, community activism & UK public service cuts

What Real Choice Have I Got? > while we’re all out here seeing quite clearly that privatisation made everything worse, they’re busy arguing for more private companies and greater individual choice. It’s so market-eager, so decentralised, so big society. And it’s a handily neat example that the principle doesn’t bloody work.

Amid all the incoherent ‘big society’ talk, consider Christiania, a democratic Danish community celebrating 40 years of autonomy > If you really want to emotionally engage and energise people – the raw materials out of which social solidarity is made – then give communities access to land, property and other assets before the developers get there. It is simply incredible what energy, skills and visions people can collaboratively mobilise when they have the chance to experiment with their communal and living space.

People’s Supermarket revolution spreads > What started as a small volunteer-run co-op in central London has attracted worldwide interest > “The Big Society is trumpeted by the Government, but large businesses with financial clout are still not buying into it and continue to seek unrealistic returns.”

More questions than answers as our schools face new examination > Since May 2010, UK Education Secretary Michael Gove has barely paused for breath in pursuit of reform, including the rapid expansion of academies and the introduction of so-called “free schools”, and a far bigger role planned for private providers. Judith Blake, executive member for children’s services and deputy leader of Leeds Council states “To be honest, I do not see enormous appetite for the ‘go it alone’ model. The overwhelming message from schools concerns the importance of collaboration. Tear it all up and you disrupt all our good work done so far”.

Hard-pressed councils set to miss cuts target by over £50m > In the past six months a total of 16 libraries, one leisure centre, two swimming pools, four tourist information centres and two homeless hostels have closed across Yorkshire.But despite the unprecedented scale of the ongoing cuts, the reality is that the majority of Yorkshire’s councils are still failing to balance their books.

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