APSE's annual Facilities Management seminar takes place in Chester and I manage to attend the dinner and second day of presentations.
Missed the first day as I attended a Show Racism the Red Card event at Old Trafford in Manchester but clear links exist between the two events. The issues of healthy eating and tackling racism are partially aimed at the same audience - schoolkids. Joint working would probably reap joint benefit, with football personalities a big hit with schoolkids and their potential involvement / endorsement of school meals services likely to help with uptake levels.
Managed to get a Manchester United top and baseball cap signed by former club and England captain Bryan Robson and Champions League winner Andy Cole. We raffle these off at the FM seminar and raise £500 for the Parkinson's Disease charity.
Day two of the conference sees a lively debate and I can't help but question an old friend Derek Stewart from AMEY on his presentation. Derek is promoting end to end solutions as the way forward, which is basically as a contractor integrating the service delivery end of operations with the corporate objectives of the council.
I point out to him that 10 or 15 years ago authorities were told to move away from a holistic approach to service delivery and create DSOs, go arms length or outsource, as being integrated was bureaucratic and inefficient. Council's followed this model and it lead to fragmentation, loss of a corporate approach and lack of corporate values. Now that we are being asked to rebuild fully integrated service delivery models would we not have just been better focusing on the improvement agenda from within, rather than spending huge amounts of time, cost and resource, on procurement exercises, or would the culture change that's taken place not have happened without the competitive edge the process brought.
Both of us agree this is a difficult question to answer.