23/11/2010 Leave a comment
On Saturday I learnt that the Deputy Leader of Suffolk could not go to the CCN conference and so the Leader Jeremy asked if I might be able to go along, I said we had a family Sunday Lunch plans but I could come along after that so late Sunday afternoon I picked him up and off we drove to Gatwick Crowne Plaza, a County Council Network Conference in the middle of Gatwick!
The conference was excellent and it never ceases to amaze me that somehow over a period of time you get to know a lot of different people and beyond the sessions and discussion groups some of the most useful time is spent over coffee or a glass of wine chatting about the challenges we face, none more so as this was sort f the first get together after the announcements of the Comprehensive spending revue and we are getting a clear steer as to the cuts that are coming our way.
Ben Page from Ipsos Mori was his usual funny and very informative self as to exactly what the public think about the coalition, CSP and of course Councils, which is err…. shall we say not a lot!
In the private Conservative CCN Group Meeting each county represented gave a brief overview of their issues and a number of common themes emerged that we all agreed to work on. I thought the best quote of the session was “If you are going to stop something do it quickly don’t let it fester!” and there was a general sense that the scale of the savings required needed us all to have a very open and honest dialogue with our residents as to what is required rather than attempt to shield them from the harsh realities.
A line I am certainly taking when I speak on the Radio or write an article for a Parish magazine or two is that if you don’t agree with a cut proposal that’s fine but in commenting you have the responsibility that you must suggest where else that saving should come from, you simply cannot oppose a cut without having that thought process because there is simply not an alternative ‘do nothing’ position.
Eric Pickles MP was guest speaker at the Dinner but was not tight lipped about exactly what was to be in the Localism Bill but he did go around the tables chatting here and there.
Jeremy and I left the conference this morning with a clear sense that we are not alone in our concerns as to the scale of the saving required and the inevitable cuts that would require but that we, through our New Strategic Direction, seem to be slightly ahead of some with a strategy as to how we want to do it.