Friday 29 September 2006
The conference closes and we have had a succesful week with fringes and the launch of the campaign. We have had umpteen Ministers visit the stand and loads of follow ups to get on with.
Treasury, DCLG, DEFRA, DCMS Ministers all visited in force and we were able to put across some points and engage with them, which gives us some good inns on some key issues.
Thursday 28 September 2006
The evening sees the launch of our campaign local services, local solutions
at Manchester City Hall. Despite it being last night of conference we still have a decent turnout. I do the overview of what the campaign is about and introduce our new pamphlet. The stage set looks really good and our new logo is impressive.
Tony Wilson who is now a well known Radio Broadcaster in the North West and used to be the man behind factory records when the reinvention of Manchester as Madchester began, opened the event with his view of what the public want from public services. We had the Leaders of the two biggest Labour controlled authorities in the U.K. Sir Richard Leese from Manchester and Steven Purcell form Glasgow providing the local government response. The event goes well and the campaign is off and running.
Wednesday 27 September 2006
We hold our Housing fringe event to promote additional investment options for social housing, the event is run jointly with the Association for Retained Council Housing. As the event is kicking off we hear that the Labour Party National Executive has agreed that they will pursue proposals to create additional options over the next three or four months. I sense that something could be achievable on this front, if it is then this is something the Association has lobbied hard for since 1999 and it would see the achievement of the aims of one of our longest ever campaigns.
There will still be a massive amount of work to do in the coming months to develop options that the Treasury can buy into.
Monday 25 September 2006
First day of Labour Party conference today and we are exhibiting so its a Sunday shift for those involved. Quite slow at first but starts to pick up in afternoon. Go to a couple of fringes in evening. Yvette Cooper is midway into her presentation at the Labour Housing Group Fringe when I lean against the light switches and the 60 or so present are plunged into darkness, I am identified as the culprit by the Chair, so decide I should move on to another event. Go to the City Regions event where Richard Leese is speaking and enjoy the discussion.
Earlier in the evening when on my way to the Housing Fringe which is on the 4 th floor of the Raddisson, I get into the lift on ground and it takes me to the basement wher Cheri Blair gets in with a dressing gown on. We have a joke with her and ask if she will be round to our stand the following day for an apse giveaway mug. She recognises us from previous years at this point as she normally gets a few from our stand to give to her kids who have their own flats at University.
Friday 22 September 2006
Went to a meeting with the Scottish Executives Health team in Edinburgh today to discuss strategies about the role local government can play in facilitating communities to improve their health and physical activity.
Proves really worthwhile and we agree a strategy about how we can achieve this outcome. This is really worthwhile for the Association to be involved in and demonstrates how we can make a real difference by getting to the implementers quickly.
Saturday 16 September 2006
Mark Bramah and myself undertake some visits to the North East today. We start off with a small focus group with colleagues from Redcar and Cleveland, Easington and Newcastle on the big issues impacting on service providers over the next five years. It's real quality stuff with some excellent contributions and ideas.
We then go on to a meeting with a Council Leader and Chief Executive. The Council Leader is a big Sunderland fan and he has a life size cut out of Roy Keane in his office along with a smaller photo of Mick McCarthy. Can't help but wonder how he can keep them in the one room without it breaking into violence.
Tuesday 12 September 2006
Participated in an event in Glasgow today on transforming public services in Scotland. Tom McCabe the Minister for Public Sector Reform opened up the event and gave his view that in Scotland there is a real opportunity to configure services across the public sector in a much more coherent fashion. I agree with him and think this is more achievable in Scotland because there has been less outsourcing to date and therefore you don't need to cut your way through the contractual spaghetti that exists elsewhere.
The workshops were really thought provoking although the institutionalsied snobbery of others in the public sector towards local government was a throwback to bygone days. They view things as a local government problem, when the reality is local government has out performed all other areas of the public sector in the last five years. This is backed up by facts via audit and efficiencies.
Saturday 09 September 2006
The annual dinner and service awards take place and we are fortunate to be joined at West Ham by two Government Ministers, Angela Smith from the DCLG and Stephen Timms from the Treasury. Over 600 people are present and its quite daunting doing the vote of thanks as its also being filmed and is shown on over 30 large plasma screens dotted around the hall. Crack a joke about whether both Ministers are still in post in light of the resignation of 8 junior ministers the previous day, the audience appear to appreciate this and it settles me down. The sky news reader Lucy Alexander presents the evening and she is first class one of the best APSE has used.
The awards go quite smoothly and the atmosphere is electric all night, the dance floor is packed and the last revellers don't leave until 2am. At this point we find the last energy reserves and head off to the outgoing National Chair, Ron Manleys room to celebrate our collective success.
Friday 08 September 2006
The second day plenaries begin with a session featuring Steve Cirell, Paul Conneely from the IDeA and the talented Anna Randle from the Lyons Inquiry team, not only does she have a first class grasp of the big issues but she's a first class presenter.
Session two involves Trevor Salmon from Belfast, Southwarks Gill Davies and the plenaries are closed by a forceful message from Shaun Field the Chief Executive at Bedford who gives a strong message of local government doing it for itself. For those watching it shows a great contrast in styles Gills message is about creating an environment where innovation can flourish, whilst Shauns is about being task orientated. Both are highly regarded Councils so both styles can be accommodated and it really comes down to local circumstances and those involved.
Thursday 07 September 2006
Sir Robin Wales opens the conference in a talk about the contribution the 2012 Olympics will make in regenerating the East End of London, the ripple effect elsewhere in the country and the important role sport plays in promoting social inclusion and cohesion within communities. Sue Reid from DCLG gives some great plugs for APSE in her talk on the future for local government, recognising how integral we can be to driving the improvement and efficiency agenda. Over 200 delegates here the endorsement and I am very pleased at this point. Sue and me then go off to do an interview with the Local Government News Channel who are covering the conference, the questions are pretty general and it appears to go fine.
The second plenary produces some great moments with Irene Lucas an absolute star as usual, even the other speakers praise her contribution and she really captures the mood of what local government should be all about, making the rest of us jealous that we can't quite articulate our views as coherently. Dick Sorabji from NLGN and Oona Muirhead from the LGA also put in some high quality thoughts and Fergus Chambers from Glasgow brings the house down with some humorous video clips that he has incorporated into his slot, risky to say the least but everyone appears to take it in the spirit of things.
The session breaks and delegates head off to the exhibition area for lunch before spending the afternoon in the themed breakout sessions.
The evening activities begin with the AGM and the mood of the hall seems fine with the strategy I outline for the future and the review of the year that Mark Bramah and me present. Some food and entertainment in the shape of casino tables with background music follows. The evening is sponsored by Newham Council and Sir Robin Wales practicises his repottaire of jokes on the audience, the Council prove to be great hosts.