How many times have we heard it said, “Lessons must be learned.”?
It's said that in life, there are no new mistakes and poor decisions, just old ones repeated. It's also said that we don't learn the lessons from past results and this must also be true, otherwise why would politicians, civil servants and our career councillors keep making the same old mistakes?
John Taylor, the long-standing Tameside councillor who claims total responsibility for Markets, has announced that he will be holding meetings with Tameside council officers to discuss plans for another Christmas Market next year, and has asked for the public’s constructive comments’ on how they can improve on the ‘success’ of what was a very successful event.
However, reading between the lines, any negative criticism or awkward questions relating to the Christmas farrago’s financial success, will not be tolerated and therefore the whole question as to whether Ashton’s Christmas Market was a success, will again become, just a lot of hot air!
Lessons can only be discovered by asking three basic questions:
2.What went wrong?
3.What could have been better?
First of all, if this de-brief; has to have any real meaning, should not be chaired by a councillor, especially not the councillor nor the council leader who purports to be its initiator; but by an independent ‘facilitator’, if it is to unearth valuable lessons.
The council employees (the events team) who were responsible for implementing the event should then be invited to make recommendations. What would they do differently if they could go back and start over again?
This is where the whole exercise will become a complete farce because for the council to learn lessons’ it needs to display a degree of honesty that some team members may find uncomfortable. Their feedback needs to be constructive and avoid getting personal. But, that is now impossible because the principle councillor has already gone out in the media, telling all who’ll listen, that he is the person responsible for Markets and the Christmas Market was indeed a success!
In Tameside, as in many other types of council where committees are involved, you may have noticed that the blame for any failure is never aimed at the person who was behind it; instead it is laid at the door of the people who executed it.
In my opinion people in public life who constantly shower themselves in praise and claim ownership of concepts and publicly congratulate themselves for their foresight and resolve to make tough decisions, should also be big enough to take full responsibility for any abject failure that may occur.
In this case, a minimum financial loss of £63,500!
Therefore, if the council really want to understand how things could be done better in the future, this de-brief should be carried out by autonomously polling the public, with the results scrupulously analysed by an independent financial reviewer.
For this to work effectively the council's leadership needs to remove themselves from this inquiry, if only to demonstrate it will not have a negative impact on individual careers
But of course it won’t happen.
Mark my words, in a few weeks, John Taylor will announce that following on from the success of last year’s Christmas Market, the council have decided to repeat the exercise!
– They’ll have to. What else are they going to do with 30 Log Cabins?