Monday 20 October 2008
APSE host a fringe event at the SNP annual conference in Perth. The topic is our research on the economic footprint of local government and it ends up packed out with around 65 delegates in attendance.
The event is chaired by APSE stalwart Cllr Richard Lyle and has contributions from APSEs Pat Taggart and CLES Chief Executive, Neil McInroy. Our findings show that for every pound Swindon Council spend on inhouse services £1.64 circulates back in the local economy.
Delegates leave the event impressed by the findings and wondering whether this is something that they could measure in their own local areas. The answer is of course yes and in the current economic times it is crucial that every pound is spent effectively to support local economies. APSE intend finding a local authority in Scotland willing to participate in the research.
Saturday 18 October 2008
Attend APSEs annual Environmental Services seminar today and present the apprentice awards at the annual dinner. With over 150 people present it is great to see these young people and local authority employers get some well deserved recognition for the hard work they do all year round.
The Horticulture award goes to Paul Boardman of Halton MBC and the Transport award to Joanne Allen of Derbyshire County Council. A great night was had by all.
The next morning I manage to catch the opening session of day two of the conference and hear Julie Muscroft of Walker Morris describe the Government's proposed legal framework for joint waste authorities and Beverly Bell the North West Tranport Commissioner talking about how she ensures she keeps employers and employees in the transport sector under tight constraints. She really should consider the after dinner circuit - she is first class.
Thursday 09 October 2008
Travelled up to Scotland today for the latest meeting of the review group for trading and charging in Scottish local government. The meeting took place once again at Victoria Quay the civil service headquarters in Edinburgh.
Despite two hours of discussion we became a bit bogged down in trying to assess what areas of trading activity require close regulation and scrutiny and what bits can be left alone. If we get this correct there could be significant benefit for Scottish local government.
My own opinion is that anything that a local authority does directly for itself and for other public bodies can be deregulated, activity undertaken for the private sector or for organisations not wholly owned by the public sector becomes a bit more cloudy. This is where we became a bit bogged down, as some on the group see this as something that should just be a financial judgement, when in reality it must be considered in the round of case law and European procurement directives also.
I actually agree quite strongly with the civil servants on this one, that we really need to test some case studies to the limit to see what they tell us. We will then be in a position to make worthwhile recommendations to Ministers on guidance. I have always been of the view that poor scrutiny makes for poor legislation!