Thursday 14 October 2010
It's APSE's annual environment conference in Stoke and I am first up to speak this morning on the economic climate facing local government. The audience today is mainly Directors and Heads of Service from local authorities with a sprinkling of elected members. With less than a week to go until George Osborne delivers the Comprehensive Spending Review it’s hard to be upbeat about the fiscal challenge local government faces. I make the quip that my staff will be handing out anti-depressants at the end of my presentation and that we will also have a free phone number to offer counselling.
I push the message of triumphing in adversity and point to difficult times we have collectively faced in the past. My thesis is that we need to sweat out efficiency, be municipal entrepreneurs to generate income in a bid to offset reduced budgets and be innovative around renewable energy to create employment or redeployment opportunities.
Last night at our dinner we held APSE's annual apprentice awards for horticulture and transport. Julia Ford from West Lothian Council won the horticultural award with Leon Flattely from Luton Council winning in the transport category. The added bonus for the five shortlisted apprentices in the transport category is that the sponsor, Faun Zoeller, are taking them all on a tour of their factory in Bremen.
Thursday 07 October 2010
Today has been one of those days where your diary catches up with you, it’s my third flight in 3 days and this one is delayed! I am supposed to be speaking at an energy expo at the Olympia in London with Steve Cirell but as it becomes apparent that I am going to miss the start we exchange slides by email.
We were supposed to be doing a joint talk on the opportunities that exist around renewable energy sources for local authorities.
Eventually I get there just after the session has finished but Steve tells me it went well in the end and at least I get a chance to spend an hour walking around the exhibition finding out about the latest products, services and innovations in this area before heading for a train to Nottingham to attend the City Council’s annual Goose Fair Dinner.
Wednesday 06 October 2010
Give the opening address at the Local Government Staff Commission in Northern Ireland’s conference in County Down today. The session is about the challenges facing local government in the UK and there isn’t a shortage of things to talk about, which could have been the reason I slightly overran!
Whilst setting a context around the difficult financial climate I try to get a challenging message across about being masters of our own destiny. I push the idea of the triangle of excellence, of getting the balance correct between efficiency savings, income generation and innovation. There are lots of brilliant things happening out there in local government it just needs to be gathered up and applied in the appropriate circumstances.
Then I am off to Glasgow for the Chartered Institute of Waste Management Dinner in the evening.
Tuesday 05 October 2010
Attend the Conservative party conference Sunday and Monday and we hold a fringe with South Warwickshire Conservative Association on ‘getting more bang for the public buck’ through procurement, with Neil McInroy from CLES speaking with APSE’s Mark Bramah.
The conference itself doesn’t appear as stage managed and controlled as new Labour did when they were in government. This means that when you walk around the event you are likely to bump into big beasts like William Hague, George Osborne, Boris Johnson, Theresa May and Liam Fox standing around in corridors talking. However it’s also the first time I have been to a political conference that has Crombie coats, Harvey Nichols and Austin Reeds exhibiting!
The mood also seems a bit more subdued than I would have expected from a political party that has just come into government after 13 years in opposition. Speculating that this could be because party members know how unpopular they will be once the cuts start to impact on public services.