Association for Public Service Excellence
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Blog from Paul O'Brien

August 22, 2014
Time for political boldness

Recent signs have been good that a new spirit of municipal entrepreneurship is starting to emerge amongst political leaders in local government.


Significant debate is taking place about devolution and the wider role local government should play in society. Whilst discussions centre around freedoms, funding and powers, it is important to also ask for what purpose? And what can councils actually deliver?

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Tags: Public policy, leadership, Political vision, transformation, parks, devolution, municipal entrepreneurship
July 4, 2014
Reclaiming local democracy

Taking a long hard look at what 'democracy', 'citizenship' and 'ethics' really mean in local government in the second decade of the 21st Century may seem like a luxury when councils are struggling to empty the bins, house the homeless, care for elderly residents and meet a million other demands with ever fewer resources. But reclaiming the vital connection between the mightiest of principles upon which local government was founded and day to day actions that matter to local people is the best way for local authorities to take control in these difficult times.

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Tags: De Montfort, Local democracy, ensuring council, elected members, in-house services
May 1, 2014
Healthy prevention beats expensive cure

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.

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March 28, 2014
Time to sharpen the thinking not the pencil

With the Public Accounts Committee warning central government to sharpen up on procurement and transparency, high profile failures at Serco hitting the headlines and authorities including Liverpool reviewing their private sector partnerships, public service outsourcing seems to have reached a crossroads.

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Tags: Outsourcing, procurement, Local government, partnerships, efficiency, ensuring council
February 13, 2014
Transforming skills in times of continuous change

Everyone knows that on top of the financial problems local government faces there is also an ever lengthening list of public policy challenges. From public health to housing, from struggling local economies to climate change, from youth unemployment to the ageing population, councils need to consider how they can deploy the resources and assets at their disposal to ensure maximum public value outcomes for years to come. This calls for flexibility and skills to respond to continuous change.


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Tags: Local government, transformation, change, Public policy
January 2, 2014
A New Year's resolution for local government

It's time to show central government the key role councils can play in helping achieve an economic recovery.

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Tags: APSE, Local government, local economies, Economy
December 9, 2013
Invest to save the health of future generations

It’s time for national politicians to show more bravery and think long term if we are to make the money available for public services go much further. Whilst I welcome the Chanecllors announcement of funding for free school meals for junior school children in his Autumn statement I would like him to go much further. In my view one of the best invest to save schemes available would be extending free school meals to all primary school children.

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Tags: school meals, APSE
November 12, 2013
Care not cuts

Attended the launch of national community meals week today at the Central Hall in Westminster. APSE’s National Chair Cllr Leon Unczur and myself wanted to show our support for a service that is coming under severe pressure as a result of the budget cuts facing local government.

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Tags: Meals on wheels, local government, cuts, NACC
October 30, 2013
Power in your hands

Hardly a day goes by of late without headlines about gas and electricity price hikes or political rows over energy policies.


Ensuring a sustainable, affordable energy supply is a priority for councils, communities and economies and can be a way of demonstrating real community leadership. As well as needing to cut costs as major energy users, positive action can help tackle fuel poverty and carbon emissions, promote local jobs and investment and ensure a secure power supply for the future. Councils up and down the country - including Stockton-on-Tees, Dudley, Reading, Portsmouth and Southampton to name but a handful – are leading impressive energy initiatives at present.

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Tags: energy efficiency, renewable energy, ensuring council, Sustainability, fuel poverty, Local government, municipal energy, Entrepreneurship
October 17, 2013
Who really keeps the country moving? #Ourday

To the workforce in local government this is your day.

Getting up at the crack of dawn to grit and maintain the roads infrastructure, sweep the streets, clean the schools and public buildings, this is your day.

By Paul O'Brien
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Tags: APSE, #Ourday

Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit unincorporated association working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.






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