60 Seconds: The short straw



60 Seconds: The short straw


It’s that time of the year again when strange men and women knock on your door and tell you how wonderful they are.

You haven’t seen them for four years and probably won’t see them for another four.

Yes, it’s local election time, folks. Now I believe that democracy should be transparent and simple. However unfair you consider the first past the post system, any  idiot can put an ‘x’ in a box. Well almost.

Compare this to my own Imrald Oil where you have proportional representation and you select your candidates from 1 to God knows how many. Now I won’t bore you with the mechanics, but it’s complicated.

In fact, it’s almost as complicated as filling in a Yankee or a Heinz at the bookies. In case you don’t know the first gives you four gee-gees with 6 doubles, 4 trebles and a four-fold accumulator or 11 bets (seemingly named after a GI) and the Heinz gives you 57 bets on six nags – you figure out why.

Being a horse-racing nation, the Irish have no problem with PR and have fewer spoiled votes than the UK. They are less lucky with the bookies’ friends.

Although the UK system seems simple, it is fraught with difficulties. Not all councils have elections on May 3. And not all wards in all councils are up for election. (Stay with me, I get lost myself sometimes.)

32d423e7-ea0d-4154-a03d-11c88edb4605So, pity the poor door knockers who spend their evenings prowling the wrong part of the district where there is no election. Ha-ha.

And pity the poor voter who turns up at their usual polling station to find it locked – it happens all the time.

I am a firm believer, for all our sanities, that there should be all-out elections for all councils once every four years. That way we might get the turn-out – currently a pitiful 30% — up somewhere near the figures for the General Election figure of 70%.

Many of you probably don’t even know there are elections such is the lack of media attention.

Well, they are damn important if you are in the development industry – a change in council control or even in the ward can turn very nasty. This is well evidenced by the Earl’s Court Development proposed by Capco which has seen relations with the Labour administration sour after they surprisingly won control in 2014.

Not to mention Haringey where Landlease’s regeneration scheme ran into problems due to the internal machinations of the Labour Party.

Councillors’ majorities are small – often one extended Irish family can see you on your ear. And every now and again, as in Northumberland in 2017, control of the council is decided by choosing straws (hence the phrase) and it was the Tories who got the short one stopping them getting control. So your one vote does count.

And be nice to that person on your door-step. The next time you see him or her might be on the Planning Committee.

Have a good weekend.


This week at Curtin&Co

This week Curtin&Co had the pleasure of hosting Caroline Dinenage MP, The Minister of State at the Department of Health & Social Care who had agreed to listen to key issues facing the retirement living industry, in order to help shape the Government’s Retirement Living Policy.

The event was very well attended by key industry figures who had an invaluable opportunity to debate how the Government can support the delivery of much needed retirement living homes moving forward.

Curtin&Co is working extensively in this sector, so if you need any help or advice on your site moving forward, please feel free to get in touch with David Shetcliffe on davidshetcliffe@curtinandco.com or 020 7399 2296.

The week ahead

Grand Designs
Javid calls for greater sector collaboration to improve design quality

Legal & Generous
Legal & General moves into UK affordable housing business

The Blame Game
Even Michael Portillo says the UK needs more council housing

And finally…

Don’t Pret on it
Housing minister Dominic Raab’s food habits have sparked debate

Curtin&Co specialises in the fields of Community Consultation and Political Engagement, especially around development, and Reputation & Crisis Management.

Curtin&Co has grown rapidly to a team of over 20 highly qualified political, community engagement and reputation management specialists, having been founded by Tom Curtin in 2009.  In 2016, Curtin&Co was delighted to be listed in PR Week’s Top 150 Public Relations consultancies at number 86 and in the Top 10 Public Affairs consultancies at number 8; a recognition of the quality of the service and growth achieved.

To find out more visit www.curtinandco.com or call Helen Barrett on 0207 399 2288