Monday 29 October 2007
APSE exhibited at the SNP conference in Aviemore this weekend and I also spoke at a fringe event on 'what local authorities are doing to tackle climate change', with the Scottish Government's Environment Minister, Mike Russell and Sandra White a MSP.
After many years of opposition the atmosphere was electric, coming just 5 months after their election success and forming the new administration at Holyrood. We had great coverage at the event with First Minister, Alex Salmond and his Deputy Nicola Sturgeon both visiting the stand, along with John Swinney the Public Services Minister. Two of APSEs key SNP elected members, our Scottish Chair Frank Anderson and Richard Lyle of North Lanarkshire Council, brought Minister after Minister to have a chat with us.
At the well attended fringe meeting I opened up and pushed four main points, firstly that the public sector needs to be the champion of change, secondly that it needs to use its massive spending power to ensure that procurement is done on a sustainable basis, rather than lowest cost, thirdly that the services it provides need to be delivered on a greener basis across the board and finally that the mindset in public services has to change so that everyone recognises they have a role to play, rather than seeing it as someone else's responsibility. Mike and Sandra both agreed in there responses and Mike went on to state that it was Governments role to provide leadership and establish frameworks for individuals to operate within, but it would be individual action which saved the planet from its greatest threat.
Tuesday 16 October 2007
The Comprehensive Spending Review eventually arrived today after months of speculation and the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, didn’t spring many surprises on local government. As expected the spending settlement was the tightest in years with a 1% real term rise set out over the next three years. This coupled with a built in efficiency target of 3% cashable savings, which in reality means £4.9b of savings required over the next three years suggests that times are about to get really tough for local authorities.
There’s a touch of irony in all of this when you consider that local government has been the star performer amongst public services in recent years, the improvement shown in measurement by the comprehensive performance assessment and the early achievement of Gershon targets. Despite this the Health Service got a 4% real term increase, against local governments 1%.
I hope that frontline services such as highways and environment don’t end up feeling the pain of this settlement. However I fear that with the increasing costs of waste disposal and social care then cuts are inevitable in some areas. It really could be a case of mission impossible Darling.
Saturday 06 October 2007
Start the day by speaking at a Surveyor conference in Nottingham on efficiencies and procurement in Highways services. I push a line around shared services and joint procurement, managing to get in a few analogies about Robin Hood. I talk about public value and how we need to ensure that we don't do a reverse Robin Hood by stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. The Q and A is pretty good and I have a laugh by linking my answers to the great legend of Sherwood forest.
I also check out a few venues in preparation for next years annual seminar, there's only about 50 weeks to go.
In the evening I attend the 713 Goose Fair dinner and have some fum with Nottingham's finest.