An Odd Relationship
12/07/2013 Leave a comment
Last week’s #LGAConf13 was, as always, fascinating, thought provoking and as usual something I come away from with a long list of new ideas and strategies to implement in Suffolk. Indeed it’s this new thought formed in the many plenary, breakout and fringe meetings and then debated over many a coffee that makes the time commitment required to be away for 4 days worthwhile.
From its beginning with Chairman Sir Merrick Cockell opening speech seeking to redefine Local Government’s relationship with Central Government to see Eric Pickles interesting conference speech and even better Q&A, he’s far more natural on his feet than being constrained by the words before him. For me these two opening speeches rather summed up and formed the theme of the Conference i.e. the interplay between the centre and the delivery of much of government policy on the ground can at times seem at odds with each other, under a Labour government this is no surprise but somehow it feels as if it should be better with your own party, better yes, but not quite as good as you would wish it. Perhaps until we get Whitehall on the same page as the politicians this will never quite happen, I am older by my elders ‘was it ever so!’.
The conference was closed at 4pm on last Thursday afternoon by Jeremy Hunt MP who gave an excellent unscripted, thoughtful, speech about the relationship between Local Government and Health.
I have over the past few months I have described this as the ‘undiscovered country’ in many meetings including the presentation I gave to the LGA’s Rural Commission and as recently as the speech I gave at the Conservative Women’s Organisation luncheon last Monday week. As George Osborne said in his spending revue and repeated by Jeremy Hunt, government is finally indicating to Health that the thing we have been awaken to in Local Government for a few years now must be tackled. Unless we address the issues for an ageing population our Health and Social Care system will fail and it is only by focusing on the social preventive agenda we will be able to cope with the demands that are going to be put on the system in the future.
A fruitful few days away.