The LGA Conference and iced Frappuccinos

I felt rather guilty about being in Bournemouth this week for the Local Governments Group Annual Conference.

There are some who say why do you need to go to Conferences and seminars in order to represent me. And indeed that was said to me the week before I went when someone asked for a meeting the following week.

So with this ringing in my ears I packed my bags and headed for Bournemouth, determined to answer the question when I got back, by really thinking about what is the benefit of going or should I just stay at home and read about it later.

Unless you regularly go to conferences or training seminars or indeed networking events I am not sure you are going to accept that they have a positive impact on what you do, more a bit of a jolly and you probably won’t change your views by anything I say.

Having said that, one of the important things about being a Councillor and indeed an officer is not to reinvent wheels and to make sure you learn from others bright ideas to save money or improve a service. In my experience that knowledge does not come form newsletters of guides but from hearing first hand about what others are doing and their passion or otherwise for a particular programme; without conferences and chats over a latte or as it was so hot an iced Frappuccino you don’t get the first hand up close candid words that convince you to take something back to try out.

Also it was an opportunity to hear and question the policy shapers at first hand and in this respect the Conference was quite something but not in the way I expected.

Firstly Eric Pickles MP was there for most of Tuesday and all day Wednesday and spoke at a number of events and was really interested to talk and listen to our concerns a refreshing change from the previous minister who last year ‘swanned in’ gave a prepared speech and legged it back to London just as fast as he could, I sat outside having a coffee on the Wednesday morning and he was going from table to table talking to people, quite something and a very different approach.

Eric, Bob Neal MP and then Greg Clarke MP, Minister of State (Decentralisation) all spoke on aspects of what I thought they might cuts and localism, but what did surprise was an additional theme – the sheer lack, intentional lack of directive they intend to issue.

Greg Clarke even visualised this with a clip from Yes Minister and a Sainsbury’s extra strong bag which he brought on stage with 13.5kgs of the regional special strategy that just fitted in the bag and then proudly proclaimed the 30 grammes of 5 sides of A4 that replaced it.

Time and time again we were told that they will not be issuing directives.

Time and time again we were told its up to you how you do things; what you want your council to look like; what you want your council to deliver; how you want your council to work.

And time and time again it struck me that is exactly what we are doing with Suffolk’s New Strategic Direction and the sort of questions we are asking ourselves as to what we want to be and how we want to deal with the cuts coming our ways

Time and time again it struck me we are well ahead of the game here in Suffolk; talking with people, whenever I mentioned our programme I was asked to send them a copy and could they then talk some more with us about what we are doing.

Actually when you read the Big Society paper, listened to how they want to empower us and implement change and then how this all sits with our New Strategic Direction, it’s a bit spooky really.

So to answer the question ‘why do you need to go to Conferences and seminars in order to represent me?’ – I go because it improves my knowledge and helps me suggest better ways of doing things and is that worth the three days out from work and away from my family to go? – yes on balance it is.

About askcolinnoble
I'm a Conservative politician-lite, I dabble a bit in Party Politics with my main focus of working hard and being a strong voice for my community making sure local government delivers quality services and fellow residents get value for money for their hard earned money they pay in Council tax | Where this Gravatar appears and I am expressing my views or liking something I do so in a personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Suffolk County Council, Forest Heath District Council, the Conservative Party or come to think of it anyone else | But having said the above at an election time and to stay legal anything I write is promoted by Kerry Buist on behalf of Colin Noble, both at West Suffolk Conservative Association, Unit 8, Swan Lane Business Park, Exning, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7FN

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