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And how are you going to get people to care about their parish council? Yes, people care about parking spaces, but they don't care that much.

Primary schools are municipal at least, serious public transit planning is at least municipal or county, hospitals and secondary schools are sub-regional or regional. Those I can see people care about.

The parish council with a 1,000 person jurisdiction sounds like a glorified homeowners' association that gets an official channel in which to piss and moan every time the muni wants to do anything that reduces house prices in their particular neighborhood, no matte how much objective merit the policy has for the city as a whole.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 03:20:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Everyone should know, and be able to approach, an elected representative. Representative democracy becomes a concrete and tangible thing. Parish-level representatives are volunteers, of course, and the council leader a part-timer. It may seem ridiculous to you, but my children went to a primary school managed by a municipality of less than 500 residents. That worked pretty well. My opinion is that if all primary schools were managed on that scale, they would be better managed, and the children would be better for it.

As I said above, everything should be managed at the lowest possible level, but no lower.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 05:56:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But "the lowest possible level" is not an a priori concept but depends on the social structure. To put it differently, one size does not fit all and moreover you don't know the size that fits until you try.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 05:59:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends on the representative.

This village - well, this pair of villages - has a parish council. We also have quite a few people who work from home and need good broadband - which we do not yet have, and have no current prospects of same.

When I suggested to the council we look into this, because there's no lack of interest, I was told 'Excellent idea! We'll form a committee at the next meeting.'

That was months ago. Oddly enough, nothing has happened since. (And unfortunately I haven't been here for most of that time to chase things up.)

So representation only works when you have people with an interest in getting things done representing you. When you have people who think decisions can only be made by going through Proper Channels™ you're onto a loser.

And when you have people who become representatives purely for career reasons, things work even less well.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 07:12:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Post script - however, the Parish council put a lot of effort into making sure the ancient Norman church had a new roof.

It's not as if it's used much, and could probably have limped along for another few decades without a replacement.

But because this is middle/upper class England that kind of thing matters, while trivia like broadband and a stable electricity supply (ours isn't particularly) don't.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 07:15:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have very great doubts as to the long-term viability of a muni with only 500 residents. That sounds like the sort of place God made for young people to leave and never return to.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 07:21:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When I moved there, I was probably the first immigrant since about the time Julius Caesar passed that way. The population was about 300, and it was pretty much as you describe.

20 years later, when I left, the population was about 500 and climbing, and had lost its former ethnic purity (Gaulish, of the Segusiave tribe). Mainly because it's half an hour's drive from an old industrial city experiencing urban flight.

It was a fine place to bring up young children.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 10:45:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That particular growth model does not really alleviate my doubts about the long-term viability of the project...

Urban flight is going to reverse. Soon and hard.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 12:36:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The policy of the council at that period was to issue enough housing permits to enable the primary school to keep four classes. I pointed out that this wasn't actually a good model of sustainability, but they were doing their best with the worldview they had.

And I'm not sure about the reversal of urban flight. The city they left has lots of cheap housing available; and there are no jobs there.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 01:57:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was probably the first immigrant since about the time Julius Caesar passed that way.

Ethno-nationalist romanticism likes to project local traditions and ancestry local ancestry several centuries back into the past. Truth is, rural collective memory is shorter than often assumed, and both ideas and people moved around a lot. I think that of the melting pot of the Roman Empire, the Burgundian migration, the Frank conquests, the Huguenot wars, at least some must have left their trace in the local gene pool.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 01:01:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, according to local tradition, the evil Baron des Adrets, the bloodthirstiest of Protestant generals in the 16th century wars of religion, won a pitched battle nearby, and our stream ran red with blood.  However, in this remote and eternally poor mountain region, 50km southwest of Lyon, there were no fertile lands to settle, nothing much to plunder, and it's completely unstrategic. The Loire plains to the immediate west, and the Rhone valley to the immediate east, yes, they have seen more than their share of great migrations, invasions etc... but no trace of significant population influx that I ever found.

As for people moving around a lot. Not. Genealogical research by my ex-wife demonstrated that your spouse came from an area within walking distance, for your basic peasants, until the early 20th century.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 01:44:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe for 98% in certain areas in the last 1000 years. But even the 2% remaining (and non-peasants) is enough.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 01:55:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
no trace of significant population influx that I ever found.

Where did you search for it? Speaking of which, when was the first mention of your village in historical records?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Aug 7th, 2012 at 02:13:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Note that the teacher is paid by, and the school programs established by, the French government, right ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Aug 8th, 2012 at 10:25:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well, obviously. Education (programme and staffing) is currently a nation-state-level competency; whether it should remain so is an interesting question, because it is definitely one of the strongest defining characteristics of a nation-state.

But managing a primary school, providing the buildings, employing ancillary staff, are communal responsibilities. In France, the size of a commune varies wildly (from dozens to millions of inhabitants); what I propose is that it should be a "parish level" competency rather than a municipal one.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Aug 8th, 2012 at 10:37:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Primary schools being a muni responsibility already leads to gentrification. Restricting the ability to redistribute resources to the parish level is not going to improve that trend.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Aug 8th, 2012 at 10:49:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In France at least, there is pretty heavy redistribution between municipalities, supervised by the national level. This is why a country village could run a decent school, by the way : half of the municipal budget is subsidy. What I'm suggesting, I suppose, is that the parish level should be resourced according to population (rather than ability to levy property taxes). More widely, local-level democracy as a community-building tool.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Wed Aug 8th, 2012 at 11:16:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Historical note: the decentralization reforms carried out by Minister of Interior Gaston Defferre in 1982, during Mitterand's first term, handed the management of schools (buildings & logistics but not the curriculum nor the teachers) for:

That's pretty much how it's been working for the past 30 years. Kind of complicated? Some would argue this is a French cultural trait...
by Bernard on Wed Aug 8th, 2012 at 04:22:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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