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Blog from Paul O'Brien

January 12, 2015
Contract management - time for action, talk is cheap

The recent Public Accounts Committee report on contract management made for interesting reading over the holidays with some important lessons for local government contained within it.

 

In launching the Committee's findings, its Chair, the Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, pointed to the fact that £90bn of taxpayers' money is spent each year on the private sector supplying public goods and services. She quite rightly stressed that, with this amount of public money at stake, it is vital that the highest ethical standards are practised by contractors.

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Tags: contract management, Outsourcing, public accounts committee, Performance Management, Insourcing, core capacity, APSE
December 11, 2014
Northern Soul!

With APSEs headquarters being based in Manchester many in our Northern Region see themselves as being the soul of the organisation, although other areas would argue this point.
 

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December 11, 2014
Illuminating local authority performance!

Our annual performance networks seminar takes place in Blackpool with 450 delegates in attendance. It always annoys me the way local government officers and members are portrayed in the media when I see the enthusiasm and hunger to learn that exists at this type of event.
 

By Paul O'Brien
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December 11, 2014
Healthy prevention beats expensive cure

Last week's BMJ article, which accused local authorities of 'raiding' public health budgets to prop up other services, shows a surprising lack of insight into the reasons why councils actually took on the public health role in the first place. It also fails to grasp well-evidenced connections between health and wider social factors that are dependent upon public services such as housing, sport and leisure, greenspace or school meals.

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December 10, 2014
Tough times, tough decisions

Over the past few months, APSE and our academic partners have been looking at what the future role of elected members will be between now and 2020 - and sadly the forecast is for stormy waters. 

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Tags: APSE, elected members, Local democracy, ensuring council, austerity
December 1, 2014
Discussing devolution at De Montfort

The 10th anniversary of De Montfort University’s Local Governance Research Unit brought together a top class line up of speakers to discuss the future of local government and the impact that devolution could have on that.

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Tags: Bob Neill, merrick cockell, graham allan, Philip Blond, devolution
November 28, 2014
APSE Energy Scottish launch

Following on from the launch of APSE Energy at Westminster in June, it was the Scottish launch event in Edinburgh today.

The theme was about distributed energy where local authorities can act as suppliers within local areas along with partners.  

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Tags: renewable energy, Climate change, energy efficiency, distributed energy
November 23, 2014
London calling

A Saturday shift in the impressive surroundings of the Guildhall in London for the London council’s annual conference today.  

As well as devolution and local government finance, housing was also a dominant issue amongst discussions at what turned out to be a really useful and lively conference.

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Tags: Jules Pipe, local government finance, devolution, london councils, Darra Singh
November 14, 2014
The future role of elected members in Scotland

Headed North today to speak at an APSE fringe meeting at the SNP Party Conference in Perth, on the future role of elected members in Scotland. This was also an opportunity to launch our research of the same name.

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Tags: elected members
October 16, 2014
Waste not, want not

Waste not, want not

Whilst much of the focus of the graph of doom theorists has been on adult social care and children’s services, local authorities haven’t forgotten that they also continue to have statutory responsibilities for collecting waste and that this waste needs to be disposed of in a cost effective and environmentally friendly way.

Huge efforts are being made to eradicate waste in the first instance by encouraging a reduction in unnecessary waste and the reuse, recycling and recovery of any materials of value that can be derived from the waste stream, prior to going to landfill. With this in mind authorities are looking to develop integrated strategies that deal with all stages of the waste hierarchy.

I recently had an opportunity to examine Barcelona City Council’s approach to waste management and found an impressive approach that also links closely to wider ambitions around renewable energy.

 

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Tags: waste management, Barcelona, Graph of doom, renewable energy, energy from waste, wind, biomass, geothermal, electric fleet, Solar, refuse collection, Street Cleansing, streetscene

Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit unincorporated association working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.

           

 

          

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