Share

Carrot and stick

Carrot and stick
Blogs

Carrot and stick2

Governance | Robert Ashton | 21 May 2012

Community isn't led by government, so why wait for it to tell you what to do, protests Robert Ashton.

Last week, I was asked to speak at the inaugural session of a new breakfast networking group. I usually give these groups a miss; too often they focus on quantity rather than quality of leads generated. It’s nice to collect lots of business cards, but in my experience that’s not how new business relationships are formed.

This group however was a little different. Started by a firm that publishes local magazines, it was held in a lovely old pub in one of my favourite market towns. This was not going to be formula networking, but 60 people with a shared interest in building their local economy.

All the right people turned out to hear me speak. The town’s district councillor, the vicar and some local sixth-formers, as well as many local traders and business-owners. Of course there were also a few life coaches too, they never miss a networking opportunity. I talked about politics, sex and religion, or rather used these headings to grab attention and make some pertinent points.

Like so many towns, this one had also pitched in to be a ‘Portas pilot’. I explained that Mary Portas, talented though she is, was in this instance literally just another carrot dangling on the end of a government stick. There are always strings attached too, with the rules of the game set centrally.

My suggestion was that rather than chase the carrot dangled by government they start with what they collectively want. I told them to focus on their:

  • Passion – what’s the collective vision for the town;
  • People – who are the folk that will make it unique;
  • Place  - what’s the starting point and what already brings people to the area;
  • Pounds – putting their own money in will show commitment and win match funding;
  • Push – things will only happen when they push, and keep pushing for what they believe in.

I hate to see people competing for government handouts. If a town wants to raise its game, it should just get on and do it. Once they’re organised, focused and raising pledges, they’ll quickly win the support of others; LEPs, local authorities and yes, government too.

Carrots and sticks are for donkeys. We need market towns that see themselves as something better!

 

Mike Paice
Freelance writer etc.
29 May 2012

Totally with you on this one, Robert. What should be kept in mind is that government initiatives are devised primarily to make government look good and re-electable. I say this not because I think all government initiatives are a waste of time but the biggest string attached to any government hand out of our money is that it comes without heart. Many recipients feel that, not only will they have a much needed cash injection but that they will get political interest and support in what they are trying to achieve. My experience is that interest and support will be fleeting and only offered on the most publicity friendly projects that make the government look good. Better to follow your (Robert’s) suggestions and then, when that politician comes to you and says “You’re wonderful. Let me tell the country about you”, ask “what’s in it for us?”

Ian Graham
Ward Councillor
Broadland Council
21 May 2012

Robert, a lot of what you said made sense. I think Aylsham does now have an organisation that is passionate about the Town and it’s members wants the Town to go forward. You are also right about Government money. I believe that my own Council has sometimes been seduced into taking cash to quickly. Beware the hand that feeds you.

Comments

[Cancel] | Reply to:

Close »

Community Standards

The civilsociety.co.uk community and comments board is intended as a platform for informed and civilised debate.

We hope to encourage a broad range of views, however, there are standards that we expect commentators to uphold. We reserve the right to delete or amend any comments that do not adhere to these standards.

We welcome:

  • Robust but respectful debate
  • Strongly held opinions
  • Intelligent relevant discussion
  • The sharing of relevant experiences
  • New participants

We will not publish:

  • Rude, threatening, offensive, obscene or abusive language, or links to such material
  • Links to commercial organisations or spam postings. The comments board is not an advertising platform
  • The posting of contact details for yourself or others
  • Comments intended for malicious purpose or mindless abuse
  • Comments purporting to be from another person or organisation under false pretences
  • Gratuitous criticism, commentary or self-promotion
  • Any material which breaches copyright or privacy laws, or could be considered libellous
  • The use of the comments board for the pursuit or extension of personal disputes

Be aware:

  • Views expressed on the comments board are left at users’ discretion and are in no way views held or supported by Civil Society Media
  • Comments left by others may not be accurate, do not rely on them as fact
  • You may be misunderstood - sarcasm and humour can easily be taken out of context, try to be clear

Please:

  • Enjoy the opportunity to express your opinion and respect the right of others to express theirs
  • Confine your remarks to issues rather than personalities

Together we can keep our community a polite, respectful and intelligent platform for discussion.

Robert Ashton

Robert Ashton is a social entrepreneur, campaigner and author.

Robert is a vice patron of Norfolk Community Foundation and chairs Human Library UK CIC.

Tesse Akpeki (54) Martin Farrell (46) Robert Ashton (41) Tania Mason (23) Andrew Chaggar (23) David Philpott (14) Ian Allsop (12) Vibeka Mair (11) Niki May Young (11) Celina Ribeiro (10)
David Ainsworth (10) Gordon Hunter (9) David Davison (8) John Tate (8) Leon Ward (8) Kirsty Weakley (7) Dorothy Dalton (6) Neal Green (5) Jeremy Swain (5) Rowena Lewis (5) Gareth Jones (4) Daniel Phelan (4) Andrew Hind CB (3) Suzi Leather (3) Stephen Lloyd (3) Pauline Broomhead (3) Rosie Chapman (3) Ingrid Marson (3) Alexander Swallow (3) Belinda Pratten (3) Sir Stuart Etherington (2) Adrian Beney (2) Joe Saxton (2) Jesper Christensen (2) Paul Gibson (2) Andrew Scadding (2) Anne Moynihan (2) Kevin Carey (2) Garreth Spillane (2) June O'Sullivan (2) Dan Corry (2) Paul Emery (2) Simon Steeden (2) Alice Sharman (2) Lesley-Anne Alexander CBE (1) Victoria Cook (1) Claris D'cruz (1) Peter Gotham (1) Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett (1) Justin Davis Smith (1) Kate Sayer (1) Alison McKenna (1) Anne-Marie Piper (1) Jo Swinhoe (1) Karl Wilding (1) Richard Williams (1) Mike Hudson (1) Sir Christopher Kelly (1) Daniel Fletcher (1) Martin Brookes (1) Simon Hebditch (1) Lindsay Driscoll (1) Jo Coleman (1) Cedric Frederick (1) Jonathan Lewis (1) Dame Mary Marsh (1) Rosamund McCarthy (1) Jill Pitkeathley (1) Nick Brooks (1) Linda Laurance (1) Suzie Who (1) James Thompson (1) Stephen Hammersley (1) John May (1) Julian Blake (1) Malcolm Hurlston (1) Andy Gregg (1) Anne Owers (1) Beth Yorath (1) Paul Amadi (1) Caroline Beaumont (1) Judith Davey (1) Douglas Rouse (1) Jackie Turpin (1) Jonathan Last (1) Tom Flood (1) Dan Sutch (1) Jonathan Crown (1) Ruchir Shah (1) Katy Wing (1) George Ames (1) Jenny North (1) Sir David Varney (1) Liam Barrington-Bush (1) Mairéad O'Reilly (1) Tobin Aldrich (1) Michael O'Toole (1) Lisa Clavering (1) Ian Joseph (1) Jonathan Bruck (1) Rachel Short (1) Dr Debra Beck (1) Andy Rich (1) Ian Leggett (1) Leigh Daynes (1) Tim Willis (1) Richard Caulfield (1) Emma Callagher (1)
Less +++ More +++

It's time for the sector to front up and prove it has nothing to hide

19 Aug 2014

The sector's representative bodies must be bolder in telling the Charity Commission what they think of...

The Big Society Network saga needs further digging

25 Jul 2014

Richard Caulfield was suspicious about the independence of Big Society Network way back in 2010.

You’ve got a (critical) friend

25 Jul 2014

The new £40m Sustainability Fund ought to allocate some money to expert intermediaries so they can help...

Free eNews

Join the discussion

Twitter
 
Training

Attending our one day courses is a highly effective way of ensuring new and existing trustees fully understand their role, responsibilities and liabilities.

>> Find out more <<