My speech from the Guardian Conference - Northern Ireland 09
Delivering in the downturn: driving efficiency, securing cost savings and expanding services through the innovative use of ICT - A big topic for someone to cover in 5 minutes but for someone originally from the West of Scotland it should allow for about 10,000 words.
The challenge we face: With public borrowing reaching £175b this year and due to slowly fall over the next 4 years to £97b then it is inevitable that public sector spending is going to fall. In real terms this could mean budget cuts of anything between 6% and 15% over this period. If we are going to continue to deliver effective public services then it means changing the way we do things.
Spend a couple of days in London at a variety of events and meetings.
Attend a Fabian event on the future of local government at parliament where local government Minister John Healey speaks along with Simon Jenkins from the Guardian. It quickly turns into a debate about localism and whilst it's all interesting I started to think that I have been hearing the same arguments over and over again for the last 15 years. And I think some progress has been made with devolution to Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and London. However my mind starts to drift to the fact that there may be some more urgent priorities facing local government at present.
Attend APSEs annual transport and refuse seminar at Aviemore for a few days this week. It's always a great opportunity to get together with this sector of local government in Scotland. We run a massive exhibition along side the conference and it's always well attended.
Despite the 6 hour train journey each way the event was enjoyable and it was good to meet up with colleagues who I have known for many years.