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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.