The British State’s petty bureaucracy is turning England to a European-style regulatory State
As Tom Welsh commented in a recent article, every year in the park near his parents’ house, the Residents’ Association puts on a concert and hundreds of people turn up with picnics to hear the band play. At the end money is collected. But it doesn’t go to charity, or even towards the events running costs (those are covered by local businesses). It goes to the Council. A free event organised by people who only want the best for their area, and with volunteers who pick up any litter and steward the crowds, has to pay the Local Authority a sizeable fee for the privilege of merely of using the park, as well as following a host of obscure licensing rules!
Such petty foggy misery is everywhere in England. Last week, a group of amateur cooks in Dorchester, Dorset said they were told to stop providing free food for the homeless by a council officer because they had not completed a food hygiene course and they were “safe-guarding” concerns.
In Somerset, a charity fundraiser, held every year by the residents of the street to mark the switching on of their extravagant Christmas lights, was cancelled after the council upgraded the occasion to the status of an “Event” and advised locals that there were liability issues surrounding their use of traffic cones to corral visitors around the houses.
Astonishment would be a reasonable reaction, but this is a logical consequence of a system that prizes rules on petty box-ticking over common sense and which raises the bureaucrat over the member of the public.
The (traditional) English way of doing things – in which everything is permitted unless it is explicitly banned – is being dismantled in favour of a European-style Regulatory State in which, in effect, everything is banned unless you have a licence (from officials) to do it.
It is a three pronged attack on freedom: Officials expansively interpret rules in order to close down any responsibility they might face if things go wrong; official bodies have been infected by a statism that prompts them to look on anything volunteers do with suspicion; and a “rights” culture marches relentlessly onwards, opening up everything to potential legal action. And all this on top of a tendency for local authorities to raise money in fees and charges that they dare not raise transparently through council tax.
Left-wing politicians and increasingly “Conservative” politicians now, talk endlessly of Regulation as a protector and enabler, essentially to a happy healthy life. They never mention how it can quash initiative, kindness and public spiritedness. The people who enforce these rules are not encouraged by the British State to be even-handed and wise or to be mindful of context. Especially at the local level, officialdom is encouraged to hold a “computer says no” mentality that is the opposite of empowering our People.
I understand that these officials may feel that they are doing their duty to protect the public from an irresponsible minority who will do whatever they please, with no mind to the consequences. They do not of course do anything whatsoever useful to control such people instead the result is too often that good people doing good things find themselves caught in the trap that they are not capable of escaping, not being experts in the intricacies of the British State’s regime or its systems of control.
While despair might be a natural consequence I say that we shouldn’t despair, what we should do is ignore them where possible, complain about them through any system of complaint available, in the case of local authorities that is the Local Government Ombudsman, whose main role in the process will be to cause those officials, that are trying to cause you trouble, a great deal of trouble in answering all the points that arise!
But most officials have some regulatory body that you can complain to and full use should be made of that to harass all and any official harassers!
Never let them get away with it easily – make them work for it! You will usually find that they quickly decide to go and pick on somebody more docile and biddable!