Speaking in Northern Ireland

nimapA couple of weeks ago I was invited to be a speaker at a Conference just outside Belfast by the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA), called ‘Creative Service Delivery’ to an audience of Councillors and Officers from Northern Ireland’s Local Government community. Essentially to give a Councillor prospective on political leadership and real examples of what councils have done to innovatively reduce costs yet deliver better services by looking at ‘delivery in new ways – designing in customer services that continue to meet public’s needs within totally barren funding environments’. In short what I have tried to champion in Suffolk over the past few years. I travelled the afternoon before because the weather forecast for the day was for snow and indeed one of the other speaker’s attempts to get to the conference on the day, was dashed as planes were grounded due to the poor weather conditions. I was met at the airport by Derek McCallan Chief Executive of the NILGA who kindly took me to the conference hotel and joined me for dinner.

It was meant to be a quick supper and a short chat but as he explained all thing Northern Ireland local government politics and the differences to England’s local government arrangements the time just whizzed by and it was absolutely fascinating as I wrote page after page in my note book. One of the staggering facts we discussed was that the public sector accounts for about 65% of the total economy in Northern Ireland and the unique challenges this presents as Northern Ireland looks to continue its progress from its troubled past to a place of high value jobs in a wonderful part of the country.

At times we think English local government is in a state of flux but next day as I described the political leadership of the mutuals and companies created in Suffolk I also talked about the incredible change the audience were a part of and that ‘I took my hat off to them’ in the their desire to look at different approaches as their world was being reformed with 26 local councils becoming 11 in March this year and that for the first time planning decisions across the Provence were moving from an executive function with no councillors involved, which again staggered me!, to Development Control committees as we know them here.

On the platform with me was a Nigel Curthers, Senior Advisor for workforce policy and strategy at the LGA who gave a presentation on aspect of change management and we were meant to be joined by Richard Selwyn, Assistant Director Commissioning from Suffolk County Council giving a presentation entitled ‘Innovative Commissioning’ but he was the one snowed in. Essentially his presentation was going to be based on his book entitled ‘Outcomes & Efficiency’ which I read as I waited for my plane home later that day. It is certainly well worth a read if you are remotely interested in this area of councils reshaping and it can be downloaded from http://tinyurl.com/1f8o4p5 In his absence Derek, Nigel and I did an extended questions and answer session and in the discussion you could see the real commitment from the Councillors present to really think about the new councils that are about to happen on 31st March 2015 and how in this environment of less money how services can be delivered and reshaped as Northern Ireland progresses.

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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