17/07/2014 Leave a comment
Last Wednesday and Thursday at the LGA Conference in Bournemouth was the usual sea of plenary and breakout sessions, causal chats with colleagues and lots of networking discussing the coming election and the future role of local government. One of the highlights was a private meeting arranged for the Next Generation for Local Government arranged by Christina Dykes, who has been the driving force behind the Conservative side of the programme for the past 9 years, with the Secretary of State Eric Pickles. As we left the room I reminded Christina it was the very room some 9 years earlier at the Party conference that she launched the first year cohort of the then new programme and we first met. As we walked out of the conference centre we reminisced about some of characters we had known from the course, who has achieved what and who was still in the local government world, she can be very proud of the work she has done and that a couple of hundred or so of councillors are significantly more effective as Conservative councillors that they would be without her efforts.
The overriding theme of the conference was for the LGA to launch its ‘first 100 days’ document for the next parliament moving the ‘Rewiring Public Services’ agenda, launched a year ago, on to the next phase of the lobbying indicating the sort of devolution local government now has the confidence to seek from central government. They say timing is everything and it was interesting to be at a conference where essentially the same thing was being said by the House of Commons Select Committee for Local Government at the exact same time. Namely that areas that are allowed to run more of their own affairs do economically better. The message is clear to an incoming government, stop talking about decentralisation and get on with it, we are ready, willing and more importantly able to do a better job at serving our communities than Whitehall, just get on with it!