Saturday 29 July 2006
Visted Julie Pickering, Head of FM at Rochdale, Julie is someone who I have known for a couple of years and has a good insight into local government generally. We discuss over lunch the impact of Government proposals on Catering on local authority budgets and how the Government, corporate centre of authorities and the public need to understand that things have a cost.
It never ceases to amaze me the hatred of Jamie Oliver amongst education catering staff. I liked the Jamie Oliver programme in the fact that it raised awareness of an undervalued local government service, it brought some extra funding and new facilities, I also liked the idea of fresh food being cooked and enhanced nutirent standards. I didn't like the damage done to existing high performing local authority caterers, the drop in take up amongst children and the lack of knowledge all round that implementing change takes time.
Thursday 27 July 2006
Our National Chair Cllr Ron Manley had a meeting this morning with Sir Robin Wales the Elected Mayor of London Borough of Newham to discuss the authority supporting us with our annual seminar which is being held in the borough in September. Ron feels the meeting went well and Robin has pledged his support to the conference.
At home at this point with the technician sent out to sort out my wireless network and virtual private network connection to the office. Breath a huge sigh of relief when I realise for once it wasn't down to me and technology, but actually a system fault. Anyway back in business and online.
Tuesday 25 July 2006
Spend morning working on a draft policy paper on the Environment with John Marsh our Principal Advisor in this area. As we discuss it we can't help but come to the conclusion that we are so far behind the rest of Europe in this area and Government policy is taking us completely down the wrong road. We are geared up to collect as much waste as possible because of Governments fixation with marketisation and competition when really we should be pursuing a strategy to minimise waste. This requires education and enforcement in order to reduce level of waste not building bigger and bigger disposal plants. Which leads us to the thorny question of variable charging and our view is firmly that this must be done on an equitable basis and not turn into a form of regressive taxation on families.
Thursday 20 July 2006
Nicola visited today along with graphic and web designers. Kicked ideas about and think we know where we are going with this, impressed with the quality and knowledge of the designers.
Wednesday 19 July 2006
Dr. Matt Lowther, Physical Activity Co-ordinator for the Scottish Executive came to the office today to discuss the development of a suite of performance indicators on health and physical activity. Made good progress and I think Matt went away armed with some new ideas on where he wants to go with this.
Tuesday 18 July 2006
Met with our media consultant Nicola Carroll to explore the commissioning of our upcoming media campaign. Agreed the PR agency to use and mapped out a plan up to launch.
Friday 14 July 2006
Did scenesetting and chaired part of our conference on 'Clean Neighbourhoods the Emerging Picture' at Old Trafford stadium today. 160 people present so reasonably good turnout for one of our events. The idea was one year on what progress has been made as a result of the enactment of the Clean Neighbourhoods Act in England. The answer was probably 'its variable'. Event went very well and quality of speakers was good and showed detailed knowledge of the topic.
Tim Pope Head of Liveability at D CLoG opened proceedings followed by Deborah Fox from CABE. The next session included Ginette Unsworth from ENCAMS and 3 local authority speakers Denice Prestidge from Southampton, John Coates from North Lincolnshire and Graeme Small from Stockton-on-Tees. ENCAMS are such a well regarded organisation and do some great work but the star of the show had to be Graeme despite him over running. His role is Head of Enforcement and he came along dressed in his community wardens uniform, he spoke with great passion for his role and really epitomises the best of the public service ethos. Although his enthusiasm for his role did go a little to far for some people when he described the powers in the Act as being like given his very own Apache Attack Helicopter.
The event finished of with 4 workshops and the feedback from the day was superb.
Tuesday 11 July 2006
In London at a chatam house rules event with Sir Michael Lyons on his inquiry with a particular slant on what people want from their local environments. Not allowed to say to much about it although Sir Michaels appears to be homing in on some key issues around about environment and liveability and how the success or failure of local government in these areas will be closely linked to public perception of public services and whether they are delivering value for money or not. He confirmed that he will definetly produce his report in December and that the areas of waste collection and disposal will form a key part of his thinking on local services and funding.
Had a good chat with Tim Pope Head of Liveability at D CLoG who is speaking at our conference on Thursday and Anna Randle part of the Lyons team who is speaking at our annual conference.
Also had lengthy debate with one of the speakers about variable charging on waste collection and whether it was a regressive form of taxation. His view was that it is the only way to change peoples behaviour towards waste minimisation and he had some compelling evidence from Germany and Holland regarding this.
Monday 10 July 2006
Spend the day in the office writing an article on Shared Services for Government Opportunities, some press on the 'lifting the burdens taskforce', finalisng the Annual Report with Mark Bramah and generally catching up with left over's from being out the office last week.
Friday 07 July 2006
Leave Bournemouth fairly sharp and get back to the office to drop off equipment before heading home for a rest. Pretty satisfied with the LGA conference its a great networking opportunity and we have over 100 visits to the stand a significant number of them of high quality.