Looking to the future, one theory that increasingly catches my attention is that of ‘collaborative innovation'. It's part of the move away from the outdated concepts around new public management towards ideas around new public governance.
So what’s it all about? Whilst new public management focused on markets, competition and customers and obviously delivered benefits for some, it failed to deliver innovation for the public themselves. New public governance is more about actors across the public, private and third sectors coming together with service users, through partnerships and networks, to learn and contest each other’s thinking and generate new solutions to the challenges society faces.
APSE’s recent publication Two Tribes? Exploring the future role of elected members, has proven timely given some of the recent governance challenges that have been thrown at local government.
More than a decade on from modernisation of political management structures, which replaced the existing committee system with a formal cabinet, overview and scrutiny system, one of the main issues emerging from the research is the feeling of disillusionment amongst non-executive elected members, who feel marginalised from real decision making with little influence over issues that affect their local areas.
A lively APSE meeting in Edinburgh yesterday with debates taking place on governance, environmental challenges, commercialisation and demand management. With over 60 delegates present including Chief Executives, Directors, Leaders and portfolio holders a healthy discussion flowed across all of the topics.
The recent Public Accounts Committee report on contract management made for interesting reading over the holidays with some important lessons for local government contained within it.
In launching the Committee's findings, its Chair, the Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, pointed to the fact that £90bn of taxpayers' money is spent each year on the private sector supplying public goods and services. She quite rightly stressed that, with this amount of public money at stake, it is vital that the highest ethical standards are practised by contractors.
With APSEs headquarters being based in Manchester many in our Northern Region see themselves as being the soul of the organisation, although other areas would argue this point.
Our annual performance networks seminar takes place in Blackpool with 450 delegates in attendance. It always annoys me the way local government officers and members are portrayed in the media when I see the enthusiasm and hunger to learn that exists at this type of event.
Last week's BMJ article, which accused local authorities of 'raiding' public health budgets to prop up other services, shows a surprising lack of insight into the reasons why councils actually took on the public health role in the first place. It also fails to grasp well-evidenced connections between health and wider social factors that are dependent upon public services such as housing, sport and leisure, greenspace or school meals.
Over the past few months, APSE and our academic partners have been looking at what the future role of elected members will be between now and 2020 - and sadly the forecast is for stormy waters.
The 10th anniversary of De Montfort University’s Local Governance Research Unit brought together a top class line up of speakers to discuss the future of local government and the impact that devolution could have on that.
Following on from the launch of APSE Energy at Westminster in June, it was the Scottish launch event in Edinburgh today.
The theme was about distributed energy where local authorities can act as suppliers within local areas along with partners.