The pilot on corporate services - ranging from HR, IT to legal services and democratic services - has been a success and will therefore be rolled out within the suite of service areas for next year. Following on from a successful pilot with NABMA last year, APSE has successfully rolled out markets this year as a full service area.
The project to assist councils in Northern Ireland to achieve the benchmarking duty is going from strength to strength; branching out into other service areas as part of this project, including Planning, Economic Development, Building Control, Community Development and Arts and Heritage. Subject to demand, these may be rolled out to the UK in future years.
Performance Networks is working with CAMMS on developing the new database for performance networks to make it easier to report and analyse data and to build a platform for future web-enabled services. We are currently testing and piloting the new system.
In September APSE launched a new app so our members can collect inspection data on parks, grounds, streets and cemetery land required for LAMS. This has been developed with BBITS/Love Clean Streets.
Debbie closed her address by announcing the launch of the new web portal for all corporate and service contacts. This is a massive improvement from the previous web portal as it’s customised to members and gives them access to their reports.
Forums and workshops
In the afternoon, delegates attended thematic forums then workshops that honed in on particularly pressing issues and a range of local government frontline services.
The forums explored a range of hot topics. In the forum “Financial sustainability, liveability and environmental services”, Andy Mudd of APSE Solutions and Craig Hatton, Executive Director of Place at North Ayrshire Council, explored corporate transformation, service redesign and how best to manage demand. Delegates shared their experiences of financial challenges and the solutions they have arrived at.
In the forum “Commercialism and performance” APSE’s Mo Baines was kindly joined by Mark Davies and Councillor Brendan Hughes of Lancaster City Council who presented a case study in how their council is generating income for social purposes. Brendan and Mark were able to show delegates how they are measuring their success through performance.
Lancaster City Council’s Mark Davies shares his experiences in the “Commercialism and performance” forum.
The “Involving volunteers in improving service delivery” forum looked at the ways councils can engage the public in street scene inspections Facilitators included Phil Pritchard, Contracts Manager at Telford and Wrekin Council and Paul O’Brien, APSE Chief Executive. The facilitators also looked at the pilot in APSE’s new Land Audit Management System, (LAMS) as well as user feedback from the LAMS App.
Other forums looked in detail at managing your facilities, transforming performance management as well as developments in performance networks.
After lunch, day one of the seminar ended with twelve highly informative workshops. With various frontline service experts facilitating the discussions, each workshop looked in depth at ways frontline staff can identify and overcome challenges, and thereby improve their effectiveness.
APSE’s Rob Bailey leads the discussion in the Transport workshop.
A future beyond austerity
The second day of the seminar opened with Dr Peter Kenway of the New Policy Institute. Following his latest report with APSE, Dr Kenway discussed the prospects for local government, and neighbourhood services in particular. Dr Kenway noted that, in the face of financial localisation, it is difficult to come up with a common message with such variations between councils in neighbourhood services. There are real prospects for some to grow their tax base, whereas others will really struggle. You can read more about the report on page 22.
The seminar concluded with a panel discussion, made up of a number of senior frontline service managers from across the UK, discussing life beyond austerity. The panel included: Kenny Gillespie, Head of Housing at Falkirk Council; Paul Wright, Open Spaces Manager at Halton Borough Council; Elaine Bridge, Head of Service at Bolton Metropolitan Council; Ruth Hunter, Waste and Recycling Manager at Wyre Council; APSE Associate Andrew Martin, former Director of Highways and Emergency Planning at Dorset County Council; and Paul O’Brien, APSE Chief Executive.
Elaine Bridge opened proceedings discussing future challenges to the education catering sector, particularly rising food costs. This was followed by Kenny Gillespie providing his thoughts on the challenges facing the housing sector, namely that councils do not pay enough attention to outcomes. Ruth Hunter then took to the podium to acknowledge the importance of volunteers to her service; with Wyre having137 volunteers in their Countryside service. Andrew Martin talked highways and how the upturn in the construction industry is making it very hard to retain talent and skills in local government highways services. Finally delegates got to hear from Paul Wright who emphasised the importance of passing information and skills to the new generation of local government workers •
If you would like to view any of the speakers’ presentations, please click here.