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Tony Elliston examines the heretical view that many council services appear to have been built in a customer free z...
Tony Elliston examines the heretical view that many council services appear to have been built in a customer free zone

I have to confess that 2 May made a mayoralista out of me. Maybe it was not quite the road to Damascus, but it was certainly the Middlesborough bypass.

The joint canonisation of H'Angus and Robocop must be one of the great triumphs of democracy over politics.

I only hope the government does not now get cold feet on its mayoral project. The possibilities are boundless - Ken Dodd as mayor of Liverpool, Alan Shearer strutting his stuff in Newcastle and Ali G in da chamber in Staines.

Is anyone in local government capable of doing anything these days without going on a training course? Some of the things people require training in are so mind-numbingly banal, you wonder how they manage to get up in the morning.

Take something straightforward like answering the phone. Why do people need to be trained to do this? The phone rings. You pick up the receiver. You say who you are and ask how you can help. Is there something I've missed here? And in any case don't these people answer the phone at home?

I have problem visualising what a training course on telephone answering would consist of and how it could last longer than five minutes even with the touchy-feely bits.

Part of the problem is local government plays into the hands of these course junkies by using the promise of training as an inoculation against change.

Managers are brainwashed into considering the training implications of any and every new development.

We have got to the stage where, unless staff are trained in every facet of their feeble-minded existence, it will be used as an excuse for civic disobedience and persistent inadequacy.

So the person who habitually turns up late is sent on a time-management course. The receptionist who is rude to a customer gets training in anger management. In most organisations these people would get the sack.

If you wish to disseminate any gossip, please email me on

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