Friday 15 February 2013

My lamp-posts and the graph of doom

I happened to hear various interviews yesterday on the BBC about the local government settlement, and you have to agonize about it.  The so-called Graph of Doom, which I have written about before, is pretty graphic (as they say).

I find myself wondering whether the real story of these years, the one told by historians, will be about the way public services struggle to adapt to the financial holocaust - not about austerity (though that doesn't help) but because of the staggering inflation of public service costs.  They will do so using the new localism powers given to local government, but the jury remains out about whether they will succeed or not.

Then I drove back down my own unadopted road, with its muddy potholes, and there was a big lorry from Croydon Council putting in tall new lamp-posts.  They have not torn out the beautiful old silver painted, ornate ones from 1937, but they will.

This staggering waste of money will, I am sure, provide us with better light - which we don't need.  It is also, I am sure, replacing the old adapted lamps with more energy efficient ones (though who knows).

But one quick glance at the top of the big black lamps shows the real waste.  No solar cells.  These staggeringly wasteful lamps will not generate their own electricity, and will soon have to be replaced all over again by lamps which do.

It is moments like these when I wonder how much local government is the agent of its own destruction.  But then, maybe it is just Croydon.  They are withdrawing funding from my much-loved local library but, at the same time, they are putting in expensive new lamps which we don't need, don't want and which will be obsolete before the tarmac dries around them.

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