Monday, 20 December 2010

Strictly local

The winner of Strictly Come Dancing is chosen by popular vote, with expert commentary and advice available to the voters, who can accept the advice or reject it as they wish.

That's quite like the relationship between a design review process (which generally speaking involves peer or expert review, and does not claim to be representative) and decision making by local councillors (who are generally not experts, but represent voters).

The rhetoric of the current Government tends to deprecate 'unelected quangoes' and the like, and favour opportunities for 'local people' to decide things. In fact, of course, that's pretty much what we have now - the advisers advise, and decisions are made by the representatives of the people (through a system called 'representative democracy via secret ballot'. which has been cleverly designed to ensure that everyone has a say, not just the pushy).

Architects often have mixed feelings about others commenting on their designs. Many would prefer it if no one commented, and they could just get on with things - after all , they spend a long time learning how to design buildings. Peer review is not always popular - but may be preferred to the popular vote.

Openness and debate are good. Strictly has all the elements of a good decision making process - informed by experts, but not left entirely in the hands of experts.

But we do seem to end up with quite a lot of 'Widdecombe' buildings, so perhaps we need to look at it a bit more closely.

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