Attended the launch of national community meals week today at the Central Hall in Westminster. APSE’s National Chair Cllr Leon Unczur and myself wanted to show our support for a service that is coming under severe pressure as a result of the budget cuts facing local government.
Hardly a day goes by of late without headlines about gas and electricity price hikes or political rows over energy policies.
Ensuring a sustainable, affordable energy supply is a priority for councils, communities and economies and can be a way of demonstrating real community leadership. As well as needing to cut costs as major energy users, positive action can help tackle fuel poverty and carbon emissions, promote local jobs and investment and ensure a secure power supply for the future. Councils up and down the country - including Stockton-on-Tees, Dudley, Reading, Portsmouth and Southampton to name but a handful – are leading impressive energy initiatives at present.
To the workforce in local government this is your day.
Getting up at the crack of dawn to grit and maintain the roads infrastructure, sweep the streets, clean the schools and public buildings, this is your day.
We've all had enough doom and gloom to last a professional lifetime. So, while not shying away from the huge challenges faced by all councils, we wanted this year's annual conference to look at practical solutions that are already happening in authorities across the UK.
Glenrothes tonight for Fife Councils annual apprentice awards dinner.
Over in Belfast today to chair the latest meeting of the local government reform joint forum.
Despite having a few challenging issues recently the forum continues to make good progress in negotiating all things human resources related contained within the up and coming local government reorganisation of local authorities in Northern Ireland.
Spoke at an international policy conference on ‘urban crisis’, organised by De Montfort University at Leicester City Football Club this evening.
Only a group of academics would want to have a talk on public policy challenges for their after dinner entertainment. Despite my trepidation at delivering a presentation at 8.30pm, they appeared to lap it up and it ended up quite a lively debate.
It was great to see a real fighting spirit amongst APSE’s membership at the annual conference at St Georges Hall in Liverpool. A number of national organisations and their representatives appear to have recently become drained of spirit about local government’s future role, almost accepting that by 2020 local government will play a minimalistic part in society and the lives of local communities. That's not a view APSE shares and it was a chance to promote our 'Ensuring Council' model.
While there are few surprises when it comes to local government’s ability to attract the blame for issues of national significance they have had very little control over, even a cynic like myself was shocked at how quickly they became the whipping boys on public health when recent life expectancy league tables were published.
It's an old cliché that staff are an organisations number one asset but just because it's old doesn't make it any less true. My view is that more now than ever we need to harness the ideas of frontline staff to make services more efficient and effective. Those on the frontline who interface with communities on a daily basis have the detailed, local knowledge that can help make those services more efficient and effective.