When asked if they felt Thanet District Council was fit for purpose, the public said no.
In a public poll that asked, “Is Thanet District Council fit for purpose?” 87% of people said it was not. The poll which was conducted through Facebook was answered by 93 votes over the course of two days. The poll was run by Thanet News a page that shares local news stories.
While the outcome is unlikely to surprise anyone it does show the scale of the council’s reputation problem. A reputation not helped by ongoing issues such as rubbish collection and a failure to write an acceptable Local Plan.
Loss of public trust – a wider issue?
One question that might deserve asking is this – is it just Thanet’s council that are seen as incompetent or is it simply a fact that the public distrust and disapprove of local councils generally?
If local government has such a massive image problem, what can possibly be done to restore the public faith in councils?
These trends are worrying for many reasons, for once, no system can function effectively in an atmosphere of distrust. Worse, loosing faith in government and other key institutions leads to loosing faith in the system as a whole.
It is clear that all politicians and public servants across the tiers of government have a role to play in trying to build up trust in government again to prevent further fragmentation. At CfPS we continue to argue that one of the best ways to build trust is by embracing the principles of openness, transparency and inviting public scrutiny. With the ongoing pressures on council finances and services there is a pressing need to engage in open and mature dialogue with people about the difficult decisions that have to made, and through that engagement and challenge there is an opportunity to build trust. The opposite, some may say natural reaction, to disengage from those that don’t trust you, will only exacerbate the worrying trend.
How can Thanet District Council improve public opinion?
The Centre For Public Scrutiny pretty much hit the nail on the head. Until Thanet District Council show that they are willing to listen and engage with people and to do so in a transparent and open way, people are never going to trust them. Thanet District Council needs more public scrutiny, much more public scrutiny. Any whiff of secrecy and back-room deals needs to end. And end soon.
What would make you more willing to trust our local council?