Working Life of Linda Fabiani MSP
27th October 2005
we go again, another holiday for the boss and another fortnight of
panic for me because I have to write something that is going into the
As I deal
mainly with constituency work I tend to see much of the same issues
cropping up time after time, so you end up with a fair working
knowledge of the system and its processes. To such an extent that you
can effectively predict the outcomes of cases at the outset of an
face of it this might appear as no bad thing that the mechanics of the
system of government are so well laid that they can be followed by
just about anyone. But the predictability of the bureaucracy within
the system is also one of its foibles.
no doubt that a level of bureaucracy is necessary in a system of
government, it is unavoidable, there does have to be rules that guide
the administration in its decision making.
shortcomings of bureaucracy are however exposed when plain commonsense
is not applied to circumstances that in some small way do not quite
match an entire governing criteria but nevertheless do not threaten to
break the rules.
times when the bureaucratic system offers solutions to a problem that
bizarrely settles on an option that was earlier rejected because the
rules dont allow it. But change the argument, move the goalposts just
a few feet and you arrive at the exact position that you have already
been told you cant have.
What do I
mean? Well because of confidentiality I cant go into specifics but
for an example take the issue of disabled drivers and the problems
they face, an issue that has been a regular feature of constituency
work in recent months.
ask for a designated parking bay for a disabled driver in a
residential street, for easy access to someones home, there are as
you would expect a particular set of criteria that has to be met, fair
enough. However when this criteria no longer fits exactly to the
situation, then you need commonsense with which to judge the case.
So if I
say to you I need a designated parking bay outside my front door and
my circumstances quite clearly demonstrate the genuineness of the
case, although crucially not quite matching all the criteria; you
would imagine a reply from the responsible authority that is a yes or
can get an answer that is a piece of both. First you can not get the
on street parking bay because (you dont entirely match the criteria)
that would tie up a parking place in the street but, you can with the
support of a council grant, build a drive way in your garden that will
of course tie up an on street parking bay so you can be assured of
access and egress.
thought about this and the principle is the same, both use up a
parking space, the same parking space in fact. The difference is the
rules say you can have one but not the other even though the outcome
is the same.
Heres a cry for commonsense! It is easy to simply
implement the rules but, fair and more just government would be better
served at times by accepting that the rules cant fit every
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