A call for transparency and accountability

Local government must confront pressing 'elephant in the room' issues head-on if it is to foster transparency, accountability and effective governance, says chief executive of Local Partnerships Adele Gritten.

In the realm of local government there are quite a few ‘elephants in the room'; pressing issues or challenges that are conspicuously avoided or overlooked in official discourse. These elephants can manifest in various forms, ranging from systemic inequalities and fiscal mismanagement to bureaucratic inefficiencies and public discontent. However, confronting these elephants head-on is essential in 2024 for fostering transparency, accountability and, ultimately, effective governance.

The issue of housing affordability and homelessness, with few cracking how to tackle at scale and pace, is one very large elephant. This crisis not only undermines social cohesion but exacerbates issues such as poverty and mental health challenges. Addressing these elements requires bold initiatives, including the expansion of social housing programmes and innovative approaches to urban planning.

Another significant elephant is climate emergency. Local government plays a pivotal role in mitigating the impacts of climate change and transitioning towards sustainable practices. Yet, many councils still fall short in adopting ambitious carbon reduction targets and implementing eco-friendly policies. Tackling this elephant demands decisive action, such as investing in renewable energy infrastructure, promoting green transportation alternatives, and enhancing recycling initiatives.

Moreover, the spectre of inequality looms large in many communities, with disparities in access to education, healthcare, and employment opportunities persisting despite decades of social reform. Local government must actively address these inequities through inclusive policies that prioritise marginalised groups, and promote social mobility. By acknowledging and confronting this elephant, councils can work towards building fairer and more resilient communities.

Transparency and accountability are also crucial in the quest to confront these elephants. Citizens have a right to know how their local authorities are addressing these pressing issues and holding them to account when progress falters. Open dialogue, community engagement, and regular reporting can help dispel the shadows cast, fostering trust and collaboration between residents and their elected representatives.

While it may be tempting for local government to sidestep uncomfortable truths, doing so only prolongs the challenges facing communities. By acknowledging and addressing the elephants in the room – whether housing affordability, climate change, or social inequality – councils can pave the way for a brighter, more sustainable future for all.

At Local Partnerships, we're here to help councils and central government do just that.

Adele Gritten – Chief executive, Local Partnerships  



This article is sponsored content for The MJ


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