At a Lyon's Inquiry event in London today on Efficiencies by virtue of better Asset Management. The day didn't start well 5.30am start doesn't agree with me anyway but when the train was stuck for 1 hour and 20 minutes outside Lichfield due to a points failure it left me late for the event. Stormed into the meeting 3/4 of the way into Sue Reids presentation and to compound my embarassment Sue waved to me, said hello and thirty odd participants turned round to view the latecomer.
The usual lobbyists were there from the CBI trying to suggest local government should be a commissioner of services and not a deliverer. Fortunately Michael Lyon's seen through it and rebutted them by stating that where services were being delivered well then he could see no reason to outsource them and that if they were being really poorly delivered then alternatives should be considered. I don't think this is a position that many in local government would argue with, however I am getting a bit fed up with the dinosaurs from the CBI who continue to try to use every discussion about reform to push an outdated privatisation agenda. This is not a universal position amongst the private sector where the more clever operators are talking about real partnerships.
Adam Wilkinson from Rotherham gave a brilliant presentation on how they have developed an asset management plan that manages their property portfolio, links it to residents needs and aids their long term self supported finance strategy. It also joins up with all public sector agencies within the local area. I had asked Sue a question about this approach earlier and was pleased to see that Rotherham were actually progressing with it, so I asked Adam a supportive question.
It seems to me that Local Government can go one of two ways it can be a minimalistic administrator or it can be a real community leader, champion and place shaper by co-ordinating all public sector activity within its geographic boundaries and delivering an integrated holistic set of services the public want and need, not in isolation but in partnership with the private sector where they can add value.
I hope I am right in thinking Lyon's caught on to this also, I had a quick chat with him after the event and passed on some documentation. He is an impressive charachter and his summing up suggested that he listens to everyone, doesn't miss much and will deliver very much his own vision rather than have anyone force one upon him.