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Blog from Paul O'Brien

May 2, 2012
Councils can lead green deal

My recent article from Public Finance

 

The government has gone cool on green issues. Whitehall must do more to support council initiatives

The CBI, environmental campaigners and trade associations were united in criticising Chancellor George Osborne’s lack of support for green initiatives in his latest Budget.

The Association for Public Service Excellence has been one of the organisations arguing that investment in environmentally friendly infrastructure and technology will stimulate economic growth as well as curbing climate change.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: Climate change, Green Economy, Green Deal, Renewables, APSE
April 16, 2012
Council's role in shift to green economy must be recognised

The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) is calling on central government to unlock local authorities’ potential to develop the green economy.

APSE’s rallying cry came as it launched a new report The transition to the green economy: the vital role of the ensuring council, which shows what local authorities are achieving and highlights ways in which national policy could be changed to enable them to do more.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: APSE, Green economy, Infrangilis, Climate change
March 29, 2012
Time for new build

I gave evidence in London today to Lord Whitty's inquiry on the affordable housing crisis.

My starting point was that to resolve this crisis local authorities need to play a key role again in providing a quality affordable housing option for all not just a safety net for some.

It's important to place where we have got too in a context, therefore I referred to the fact that the challenge for the new government of the day in 1997 was clearly about tackling the £22b backlog of repairs in council houses and bringing them up to the decent homes standard. However, the process which brought this about resulted in stock transfers, continuation of right to buy and demolitions.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: Housing, APSE, Communities, Whitty
March 20, 2012
Challenging times call for well thought out solutions

Having met with three very different local government chief executives recently I was struck by the commonality of understanding of the challenges that council’s face in the coming years. Fiona Lees from East Ayrshire, Manjeet Gill from West Lindsey and Carolyn Downs of the LGA all shared a vision that the answers to the tough times ahead would be found in working closely with and within local communities.

With demographic change towards people living longer we know that a smaller percentage will be working in the future and that there will be greater demands for care services amongst an increasing elderly population. With increasing social problems created by alcohol and drugs, the number of children being looked after is also rising.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: Local government, Communities, economic development
March 9, 2012
Market volatility

With a huge amount of market volatility at present, is now really the right time for local government to be looking to the private sector for solutions?

The names Southern Cross, Connaught, ROK and Fountain have probably done more damage to the outsourcing agenda in local government than the collective writings of opponents of this approach since the dawning of Compulsory Competitive Tendering 30 years ago. Throw in recent headlines around A4e and you can see that for an industry that works so hard on its image, the last couple of years have not been a great time.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: public Value, APSE
February 27, 2012
The business case for going green

Copy of an article Neil McInroy from CLES and myself recently did for Public Finance magazine.

Councils should be leading the way with renewable energy schemes. They can reap important economic and social rewards as well as environmental benefits

A report published this week by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) suggests there is still a business case for local government-led renewable energy schemes.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: APSE, CLES, renewables, FIT's, Solar, local government, public finance
January 13, 2012
Tough times for local government in 2012

If local government thought 2011 was tough, 2012 may be about to get a whole lot tougher. With an estimated 145,000 job losses in councils over the previous 12 months, some may have thought the heavy lifting had been done. However, my fear is that whilst many have made significant progress in efficiency programmes, this may prove difficult to sustain – and the knock-on effect for councils that didn’t quite get there in year one could be catastrophic. With ongoing redundancies, wage freezes, rising pension payments and inflation remaining relatively high, morale will be near the floor.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: APSE, Local government
January 6, 2012
Green light for better asset management

APSE’s first strategic forum of the New Year took place last night on the theme of energy efficiency in asset management. Guest speaker was David Kilduff, Head of the Commercial Group at Walker Morris Solicitors, who gave an overview of the issues facing local government in this area.

These events are used as an opportunity to develop policy and share knowledge.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: energy efficiency, asset management, environment, renewables, David Kilduff, Walker Morris, green deal, pensions, Eric Pickles, APSE
December 1, 2011
Holding democracy dear

Many local authorities are considering the alternative models of service delivery that exist as part of their on-going plans to deal with the financial austerity they face over coming years. Issues that should be close to the top of any list when weighing up the pros and cons of each option are governance and accountability.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: Governance, Accountability, Localism, local government, austerity, procurement, , elected members, APSE
November 16, 2011
Insourcing Bradford’s Education Services

I recently met with colleagues from Bradford Council to discuss how they had been involved in Insourcing the City’s Education Services from Serco. 1,300 staff were transferred back to the authority in July this year from a £53m per annum contract.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: APSE, Insourcing, Bradford

Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit local government body 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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