It starts on Monday night with our National Council meeting and we have a great turnout as this is where much of the business for the following evenings AGM is decided. We then move on to a reception for all those in town on the eve of the conference.
Tuesday morning opens with the Local Government Minister Parmjit Dhanda delivering the keynote address in a session accompanied by Mick Henry the Council Leader at Gateshead. Parmjit delivers some positive messages about local governments performance over the past years and is well received by the audience. Michael Hughes from the Audit Commission also has some strong messages about the future of best value, which get the delegates thinking.
The AGM takes place in the evening and once I have delivered the annual and financial reports we get to the key task of electing our advisory group chairs, we really want to achieve a good political balance this year and manage to get chairs from 6 different political parties elected. Following wine and a hot buffet, snooker pundit and T.V. personality John Parrott entertains us with some hilarious stories.
Day 2 commences with me doing a slot on Governance, Neighbourhoods and Service Delivery, but the Chief Executive of Vale Royal, Anne Bingham Holmes steals the show by mixing cocktails on stage as part of her presentation. The plenary sessions close with a motivational talk from former British Swimming captain and Olympic medalist Steve Parry, I didn't really know much about Steve before he spoke and I am a bit apprehensive, however no need to worry, he is an absolute revelation one of the best I have seen.
In the evening its our annual service awards and we have 720 people present, months of planning and hard work come together and it is a stunning event. Adrienne Lawler from Sky T.V. presents the awards and has the audience eating from the palm of her hand. The final award is for the council with the best overall service delivery based on the various submissions made - Gateshead win and its as if the whole place erupts - I thought the stage was going to collapse there was that many of them on it. We end up back at our hotel to wind down after the adrenalin rush of the last few days and I sneak off at 3.30am to lay down in a darkened room to replenish my supply of mental wellbeing.