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December 2007
The electronic newsletter of the
Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers
Win a free
place at the
annual dinner
Focus is produced by
Solace in association with
Varney in the House Go
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
n Varney: A competitive public sector
n Regulation: The latest from SFI
n Councillors: Diversity needed
n Education: Narrowing the gap
n SOLACENet: Key for leaders
n Housing: IDeA/CIH findings
n News in brief
Conference 2007 report
n Davies: Look to the world
n Blears: Making vision real
n Morgan: Wales no hidden secret
n Migrants: Five real voices
n Page: Differing opinions
n Jones: Led by you?
n Clark: Local world impact
n Jones Parry: Boundaries blur
n Wright: Commonwealth connect
December 2007
n Scotland: Elections review and more
n Wales: One Wales closer?
n Northern Ireland: Assembly
views emerge
n President: Devolution top agenda
n Hudson: SOLACE staying power
n Haines: South Africa future
n Frater: Lift that burden
Ordnance Survey: No ordinary GI
n Oracle: Techno tools
n Zurich Municipal: Guinea pig learning
n BT: Married life
n WebEdgeTV: On the TV
n Fujitsu: The new technology
n Consilium: Evangelism
n Limehouse Software: A second life
n Deliotte: Merging acquisitions
n IDeA: Community cohesion
SOLACE Annual Dinner 2008
6 February. Intercontinental Park Lane
For more information & booking click here
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Varney unvarnished
If the Good
Samaritan had
applied local
encountered by Sir David Varney
five years ago the bludgeoned victim
would be still laying by the road.
Sir David, guest speaker at the society’s
annual House of Commons reception,
has had an impressive career spanning
the private and public sectors. He
joined Shell in 1968 and in 1991 was
appointed a managing director of Shell
UK. He became Chief of BG (formerly
British Gas) in 1997 and between
2001 and 2004 was Chairman of
mobile phone operator mm02. He
was also Chairman of Business in
the Community and President of the
Chartered Management Institute.
Perhaps his most challenging role came
in 2004 when he became the first
executive Chairman of HM Revenue and
Customs (HMRC) – he led the merger
of the two departments, with staffing
of 100,000, in April 2005. Since ending
this role he has been a permanent
secretary advising the Prime Minister
on public service transformation.
More than 120 SOLACE members
crammed into the House of Commons
covered balcony overlooking the
Thames to hear him speak.
Jeremy Phillips of J4B, event
sponsors, explained that his
company was about helping local
government track the success of
financial sourcing and expenditure
against organisational priorities.
“As a software company we would
love to promise you that IT investment
will miraculously transform local
government. We all wish that was
true but we know it’s not. There are
far greater challenges ahead about
evolution of processes learning of
new skills and changes in attitude
and behaviour throughout. It is about
strong visionary leadership and best
practice. That is why J4B is proud
and privileged to be here tonight.”
SOLACE Chairman, Barry Quirk,
said that the House of Commons
was an important landmark
for local government.
He said, “It was 150 years ago in
1858. The Great Stink in London.
The Thames was so polluted MPs
were driven from the House because
the smell was so bad. There were 6
sewer commissions at the time. They
were amalgamated into one unitary
met works board which became the
forerunner for London local government.
(He reassured the audience that there
were no parallels with present day
reorganisations being suggested here)
Page 1 of 3
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Varney unvarnished
“Public Service Management is a
bit like sewers. You only notice it
when there is a smell about.”
He said that the local government
landscape had changed significantly
since Sir Michael Lyons spoke at the
same event last year. Sir Michael, he
suggested, had made place shaping
possible. But there was a new danger.
The current danger is too many
acronyms - LAAs LSPs CAAs. They
are an attempt to confuse. Our role
is to clarify and simplify for the
thousands of people we employ and
the hundreds of thousands of people
that we serve. The question now is
nothing more complicated than ‘are
we capable and are we confident?’
In the last year what has dramatically
altered is the confidence. We can now
move from promising to performance
because that is the bridge.”
Sir David did not pull any punches
during his speech. His trademark
is a no-nonsense-commonsense
approach to reforming services so
they respond to what the customer
and citizen needs and deserves.
He opened by saying he had ‘Googled’
the word SOLACE before coming to
the House and had found three entries
apart from our organisation. A company
that produces software by ferreting
offshore. A pub church in Cardiff called
Solace and a helpline offering support
to people suffering from distress.
Sir David said the UK economy got
into trouble some years ago when
it forgot that it was in a competition
and a competitive market.
“We have to look for a competitive
public sector – how do you make
it more effective and efficient.”
His experience when he first went
into the public sector was of little
evidence of looking after the concerns
of the citizen. It was too interested
in the supply side, he suggested.
“If the story of the Good Samaritan
was told then the injured man would
still be on the side of the road.
“Take bereavement. Only recently there
was a story of a surviving son who had
to fill out 44 forms after the death of
his father. Six months later the dead
man’s passport had not been cancelled
and the mother was still not getting the
housing benefit she needed to survive.
“If we can get more effective by
getting into the shoes of the citizen
we will have a business model that
is more effective. But we have to
realise one size does not fit all.”
Page 2 of 3
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Varney unvarnished
Sir David said technology and data
sharing could help the cause of a
more effective public sector. He cited
the success of non-emergency 101
numbers in places like Cardiff. The
public sector he said dealt with 400
million calls a year. Of those 80 million
people ring off tired of waiting and 120
million of the calls are unnecessary.
“There is a great opportunity to
reduce avoidable calls and we would
become more loved I think,” he said.
“Information sharing is necessary for
the public good – I have been specific
here, I am talking about name, date of
birth and national insurance number.”
he said. Local government is investing
in brand new systems because you
want to safeguard the public.
“We need to deliver to the citizen
what they want. You are central to
that. There is a reason we all joined
the public service sector. We are
intent on making a difference to
the outcomes for the public.”
In closing Sir David said that high profile
cases such as Anthony Joseph who
killed a man after being released from
an offenders centre, Victoria Climbie
and the Soham murders highlighted the
need for information and data sharing.
Page 3 of 3
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Risky business this regulation
Regulation – often
derided as red tape –
saves lives and arrests
wrong-doing and
That’s the conclusion of a set of
cogent essays in this month’s SOLACE
Foundation Imprint series which
argues strongly for better regulation
and against hasty deregulation.
The pamphlet, edited by the Guardian’s
David Walker, carries pieces from an
impressive range of top regulators
and regulation practitioners including
Derek Allen, chief executive of Lacors,
Geoffrey Podger CEO of the Health
and Safety Executive (HSE) and
Prof. Bridget Hutter at the LSE.
Rather than barring progress with a
mountain of red tape the contributors
argue that regulation has been
modernised and improved so that it
is now proportionate, transparent,
targeted, accountable and consistent.
Improvement is needed and is continuing
but as Clive Grace and Judith Hackitt
of the Local Better Regulation Office
and the HSE say in the pamphlet’s
foreword, “Regulation can help to
create an efficient climate for business,
advance social objectives and ensure
environmental protection without
creating unnecessary burdens.”
There is now they say “a real
opportunity to drive home the
message that regulation is not only
core business for local government
but also core to delivering
outcomes that matter to people.
“It is also important that no one
imagines that better regulation
means removing necessary legislation
and lowering health and safety
standards. The deterioration in last
year’s statistics* on both death and
injuries in the workplace suggest that
withdrawing regulation too quickly
confirms that need for effective
regulation that is intelligence-led and
linked to targeted enforcement.
“David Walker has brought together
an interesting and powerful range
of contributions to illustrate the
important and varied dimensions
of modern regulation.”
l Full
injury and death at work
statistics available at: http://www.
l The
full pdf of the pamphlet –
Regulating right: regulation shows its
better and local faces – is available at:
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Councillor diversity needed
Being a councillor is still seen as a white,
middle class hobby for men, according to
new research by the Government Office
of Equality and the Fawcett Society.
Responding to the findings, Harriet
Harman, Minister for Women and Equalities,
has called for more ethnic minority women
to take up roles in public life and wants the
number of Black, Asian and ethnic minority
women councillors to rise to around 1,000
to make councils fully representative
and strengthen local democracy.
Currently, there are 19,689 councillors
across England and only 168 of them
are ethnic minority women, less than
one per cent (0.9%) despite the fact
that ethnic minority women make
up 4.6% of the UK population.
Harriet Harman said:‘Traditionally
people have seen being a councillor as
a white middle class hobby for men.
The 2.3 million Black, Asian and ethnic
minority women in the UK make a great
contribution to our society and economy
and we need them to be represented
at every level of our democracy from
magistrates and councillors in their local
communities to MPs at Westminster.’
Interim findings from a report published
by the Fawcett Society and the Government
Equalities Office reveal the top three
barriers for Black, Asian and ethnic
minority women to become councillors are:
1. Being a councillor still looks like a
white middle class hobby. The councillor
role continues to be treated as a
pastime for those with spare time and
money - rare gems for many Black,
Asian and ethnic minority women.
2. Gate-keeping political parties. Local
political parties’ commitment to diversity
remains weak and ethnic minority women
potential candidates face poor support
and even discrimination from parties.
3. Local parties are not bridging the
distance to ethnic minority women.
Most of the ethnic minority women
councillors interviewed had become
a councillor because somebody
asked them. But not enough ethnic
minority women are being asked.
This research will feed into the work
of the Councillors Commission, being
chaired by Dame Jane Roberts which
will report to the Communities Secretary
Hazel Blears and the new Women Take
Part project which will examine how
existing support for women in public life
at a grass roots level can be improved.
Communities Secretary Hazel Blears
said: ‘There are those who talk about our
councillors being ‘pale, male and stale ‘ I think that label is unfair but we do need to
ensure all elected representatives, national
and local, better reflect their communities.
I know what an invaluable role councillors
play in every aspect of our communities.
‘It is vital that we find new ways to
encourage more black and ethnic
minority women to take up these
crucial posts. That is why we set up
the Councillors Commission – that will
report to me later this year – and I am
committed to finding practical ways
that will help to make this happen.’
The Commission reported on December 10.
l More information at http://
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Narrowing the gap
SOLACE is part of a project group being
put together to significantly improve the
educational attainments of vulnerable
children. The Narrowing the Gap project
aims to make a significant difference in
‘narrowing the gap’ in outcomes between
‘vulnerable’ children and the rest.
The project is being led by Christine
Davies, former Director for Telford &
Wrekin Council, on behalf of the LGA
and the DCSF. SOLACE is a member
of the programme board, which will
oversee and support the general
direction of the project and help
maintain clear lines of communications
between the core team, the Children’s
Sector and key stakeholders.
The two-year project will focus
on five key lines of enquiry:
l How
to create and sustain the right
links between schools, children’s
centres and Children’s Services
l How
to engage and support
parents and carers in helping
their children to succeed
to use the new systems
and process brought into being by
Every Child Matters to orientate
services more towards prevention
and early intervention.
outcomes of the Children Act,
and what is making significant
differences in securing most improved
outcomes for vulnerable groups.
l How
l How
to strengthen and
align local leadership and
governance arrangements - both
professional and political
l How
to strengthen systems for
developing local leaders to deliver
improved services based on the
understanding of what works
Davies said: ‘The project will focus
on practical, transferable hard
evidence about what is working
best across the country in making
the biggest differences to children’s
outcomes generally across all five
SOLACE ADG Mike Bennett said: ‘There
is no greater responsibility that local
government holds than providing the
best start in life for all children, no
matter what their background. Yet
the gap between deprived and nondeprived children continues to grow in
educational attainment. This project
is about trying to make a complex
system work better for the most
vulnerable children in our society and
SOLACE is very keen to be engaged.’
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
SOLACENet – key for future leaders
Please sir, can we have some more
SOLACENet master classes? This was
the response to the latest SOLACENet
Master class, Aiming to be a Corporate
Director, led by Terry Gorman and Terry
MacDougall of SOLACE Enterprises.
The Master class was held during
SOLACE conference and the people
attending also got the chance to
attend the Society’s annual conference
including hearing the speech by
Secretary of State for Communities
and Local Government Hazel Blears.
SOLACENet is the Society’s
programme for aspiring managers
not yet senior enough to become
full SOLACE members. It centres on
five key elements: exclusive inside
communication; free to attend Master
classes from leaders within the sector;
shadowing within the region and
nationally; networking events; and
managed networks for just £10 a month.
SOLACE chair Barry Quirk said:
‘SOLACENet is key to the work of the
Society in increasing the pool of future
leaders and promoting public service
excellence through the development of
talented groups of aspiring managers.’
New SOLACENet member Claire
Bridges, Programme Manager Planning
Advisory Service with the IDeA, said
she found the regular ebulletins
invaluable in flagging up forthcoming
events and providing the latest news.
‘The Master class was an opportunity
to get away from my desk for a short
while to meet up with peers and
consider some of the latest think on
leadership. I think it would be useful to
have a series of Master classes around
a range of topics. I think combining it
with a larger event provided a good
opportunity to attend other sessions
and network in a wider arena.
Rob Polkinghorne, Head of Policy &
Performance at Slough BC, said he
had joined SOLACENet as part of his
personal development plan, ‘I am a
relatively new member and have already
found it invaluable. Attending the Master
class gave me a real insight into the role
of a Corporate Director and provided me
with a number of actions to take forward
in my personal development plan.
It also gave me the opportunity to attend
SOLACE conference and network with
chief executives throughout the country.
I’m now looking forward to the
next event!’
l Find
out more about SOLACENet
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Skills for success in housing
Chief Executives understand the strategic
importance of housing but have not
consistently recognised the need to feed
this into their Local Area Agreement,
claims an interim report by the IDeA and
the Chartered Institute of Housing, based
on a poll conducted by Ipsos Mori.
An online survey of 126 CEXs found that
they appreciate the ‘corporate context’
of housing, with 45% defining the role
in terms of ‘creating a vision compatible
with sustainable communities’. The
report warns there is no appreciation
of how this could be achieved via the
LAA. Just 13% said ‘embedding housing
within the LAA was important’.
This corporate view of housing contrasts
with that of strategic housing officers,
who saw local authorities’ main housing
priority as ‘ensuring an affordable housing
supply’. Interviews with 209 housing
officers found that just 7% see building
sustainable communities as a priority.
The report includes interviews with elected
members and national stakeholders. It seeks
to identify gaps in local authorities’ skills
and knowledge in carrying out the strategic
housing role. CEXs are more positive about
the strength of local partnerships than
strategic officers. This could be because
they see the ‘bigger picture’, says the report.
Alternatively, it says, it could be because
they do not get involved with the day-to-day
difficulties of frontline partnership work.
The report finds that local authorities
face significant skills shortages when trying
to deliver their strategic housing role and
lack confidence in their ability to influence
key local stakeholders such as developers.
It states: ‘The political interpretation of the
role is missing which makes it difficult for
authorities to make a case for spending
money when they don’t own housing
stock.’ It says councils do not have the
‘confidence to take on difficult issues such
as compulsory purchase orders, closing
orders or to say no where it is required’.
Researchers found CEXs often alluded
to the ‘low profile of housing within the
corporate context’ and that it was not
automatically included in mainstream
thinking. The report warns that housing
responsibilities are often equated with
owning housing stock and ‘there is a real
danger that local authorities looking to
transfer their housing do not prioritise and
resource the strategic role properly’.
The report finds an outdated perception
of the strategic housing role at officer level.
However, CEXs have a better understanding
of what strategic authorities need to do
but admit there is a long way to go.
National stakeholders say government
is not leading on the issue, while the
expectation on local authorities to
influence housing is growing. The 2006
local government white paper placed
housing at the heart of a council’s place
shaping role but, the report observes,
this follows a 20-30 year period in which
local authorities had been held back from
taking a strategic lead in their areas.
The IDeA is currently delivering a
programme to enable housing to
be positioned at the heart of the
place-shaping agenda, and it has
commissioned the Chartered Institute
of Housing and Mori to carry out a
follow-up study next Spring to find out
which local authorities have developed
their skills and capacity in this role.
l The full survey and details of the IDeA’s
strategic housing programme, can be
found at
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
News in Brief…News in Brief…News in Brief…News in Brief…News in Brief…News in Brief
Electoral problems and solutions
What did Returning Officers and
senior managers learn in 2007
about the changes in electoral law
and practice that followed the 2006
Electoral Administration Act? This
is the focus of Elections: Problems
and Solutions, a conference to review
election management under the recent
changes that started to apply in 2007.
The conference on 17 January at the
Thistle Hotel Marble Arch in London
organised by SOLACE Enterprises,
has been designed to provide timely
and relevant information and shared
experience. It will be introduced by a
keynote speech from Bridget Prentice
MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of
State at the Department of Justice.
Other speakers include: Max Caller,
former council CEX and now a member
of the Electoral Commission; Tim Straker
QC; and people from the recently
awarded Election Beacon Councils.
A key part will be played by David
Monks, chair of the SOLACE Electoral
Matters panel, and Roger Morris, joint
authors of Running Elections 2007 and
the new handbook Elections: Problems
and Solutions, an update of the SOLACE
Enterprises 2003 self-tutor publication.
Delegates will receive a free copy.
This year will include a workshop to
share some of the recent experience
with those most affected by the issues
that arose from the 2006 Act.
l Find out more at: www.
Annual dinner
The New Year 2008 is not far away.
Don’t forget to book your place at the
SOLACE Annual Dinner on Wednesday
6 February. For the past four years
the dinner has been a complete sellout. Now, as a chief executive or
senior manager member, you have
the unique opportunity to attend
this dinner in a free hosted place.
If you would like to put your name
on the hosted list, please visit the
online booking system at http://, choose
option 1, complete the details and your
name will be added to a list provided
to our corporate table hosts.
The hosted list is then used by SOLACE
corporate partners to send invites to
sit on their table. Should you accept
your place will be free. If you choose
not to accept or you do not receive any
invites, you still have the option in late
January 2008 to pay to attend as a
normal SOLACE Member at £105+ VAT.
The SOLACE Annual Dinner has
been an established date on the local
government calendar since the very first
time it was held at The Savoy in 1974. It
represents a great opportunity to hear
from a high level speaker while enjoying
the informal networking atmosphere
of one of London’s best hotels.
The venue for the dinner this year
LANE which has recently completed a
£76million refurbishment. The dinner
begins with a champagne reception
at 7pm followed by dinner at 8pm.
A high level speaker will be invited to
address the dinner guests and we will
confirm the name later in the year. In
previous years the invited speakers
have been Peter Housden (Permanent
Secretary), David Miliband (Minister),
and journalist Andrew Rawnsley.
l Booking is at http://
Page 1 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
News in Brief…News in Brief…News in Brief…News in Brief…News in Brief…News in Brief
Northern lights on again
The Northern Branch of SOLACE is
holding a conference on 23rd January
2008, with a dinner the evening before.
The conference will be held at Redworth
Hall Hotel, County Durham. Speakers
include Ben Page, Managing Director,
Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute
and Reputation Centre, Byron Davies,
President of SOLACE, and Lucy de
Groot, Executive Director of the IDeA.
Sunderland CEX Ged Fitzgerald,
chair of the Northern branch, said:
‘It is hoped the event will be the first
of many SOLACE Northern Branch
activities. The Northern branch
includes representatives from County
Durham, Cumbria, Northumberland,
Tyne and Wear and Cleveland councils,
with members ranging from recent
graduates to chief executives.
‘It is intended that branch activities
will provide SOLACE members in the
North with ongoing opportunities for
networking and support as well as
giving members the chance to consider
issues that affect the northern region.’
l To secure a place or find out
more visit https://secure.solace. 2008
or contact Claire Rogers on
0191 553 1186 or email claire.
Councils must give people
better information
Councils must give people looking
for care better and more accessible
information says a mystery shopper
exercise carried out on behalf of the
Commission for Social Care Inspection.
Mystery shoppers, posing as people
asking about care for an older relative,
contacted all 150 councils in England.
On the phone council staff generally
gave good information and inspired
confidence. However, their written
information varied considerably.
One of the shoppers said: ‘Some
of the stuff they sent seemed like
they just picked up whatever they
had and chucked it in an envelope.
There was no structure to it.’
Chief inspector Paul Snell says in the
foreword to the report: ‘The results given
in this analysis show much good work:
councils are in many cases responding
with clear information and asking the
right questions. However, there is also
evidence of poor practice and in some
cases people were given nothing at all
in writing, only spoken information.
‘Information services are sometimes
seen as marginal in busy councils.
We believe they are an essential
area for investment because they
are so closely linked to well-being
for the people who need care.’
The report found:
l Nearly a quarter of councils did
not send any written information
to our mystery shoppers, and of
those who said they would send an
information pack, 11% didn’t arrive.
l Just over half of the information packs
were rated from adequate to very poor.
l Some were given too little
information, some so much that it
looked more like junk mail and could
easily put off or confuse people.
l Nearly a third of 125 councils, when
asked, said they did not have information
for someone with poor eyesight.
l Read
the mystery shopper report,
called Hello, how can I help?
Page 2 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
ScotlandFocus: Scottish Elections Review
Tom Aitchison and
Lesley Stevenson look
at the Gould Review
SOLACE Scotland
Returning Officers have welcomed
recommendations to ensure that the
voter is placed first in future elections,
in the report of the Scottish Elections
Review on the administration of the
May 2007 parliamentary and local
government elections in Scotland.
The Scottish elections were marked
by unprecedented change with the
introduction of STV for the local
government elections, a redesigned ballot
paper for the parliamentary elections, and
the use of an electronic count for both.
Problems encountered at the
elections were well-publicised, with
media reports focusing on the record
number of rejected ballots, the technical
difficulties experienced by the e-counting
contractor and the resultant delays and
suspensions that affected counts.
Before the elections, Returning
Officers, through SOLACE, had warned
the Scotland Office and the Scottish
Executive that the introduction of the
new STV system for the local government
elections was complicated enough for
voters to understand on its own. When
this was coupled with a long and complex
ballot paper for the parliamentary count,
which used a different voting system, we
predicted that voter confusion was likely.
The day following the elections,
SOLACE (Scotland), in conjunction
with the Association of Electoral
Administrators (AEA) and the Society
of Local Authority Lawyers and
Administrators (SOLAR) called for an
in-depth review of the decisions that
resulted in the problems encountered.
The Scottish Elections Review
was established by the Electoral
Commission to report independently
on the administration of both the
Scottish parliamentary and local
government elections. Mr Ron Gould
CM, an international authority on the
management of elections, was appointed
to lead the review, published in October.
Many of the review’s recommendations
address concerns that SOLACE had
previously highlighted, including improving
links between legislation and operational
planning, and extending the timescale
between the close of the nominations
period and postal votes being issued.
We are particularly gratified that the
review calls for an end to overnight
counting, concluding that ‘it is essential
that the emphasis is on the quality
of decision-making not on the speed
with which the count is conducted’.
SOLACE has made strong
representations on the necessity
of completing electoral policy and
legislation well in advance of the election
period, and the Gould Review, indeed,
concludes that many of the problems
encountered were attributable to delays
in the passing of electoral legislation.
Page 1 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
ScotlandFocus: SOLACE Scotland
Scottish Elections Review
It describes Returning Officers as being
in a Catch 22 situation. They had been
assigned legal responsibility but not the
practical authority to meet that obligation.
The lack of timely agreement on policy and
subsequent arrival of secondary legislation
‘directly influenced their capability to plan
for and meet operational deadlines’.
The review finds that Returning
Officers had insufficient control over the
production of ballot papers, as a result
of the centralisation of the process,
and recommends that, in the future,
Returning Officers should be integrally
involved in ballot paper production.
On the contentious issue of rejected
ballots, the Gould Review finds little
evidence that the simultaneous local
government election using STV
contributed to the high rejection
rate in the parliamentary election.
Instead, it points to the ballot paper
design, arguing that the high number
of rejected ballots was primarily due
to the combining of the two Scottish
parliamentary ballot papers on one sheet.
Nevertheless, the Gould review proposes
de-coupling the local and parliamentary
elections. It concludes that combined
elections lead to a diminished focus on
local government issues and that they are
not only ‘a disservice to the local councils
and candidates but also to the electorate’.
One of the review’s central
conclusions is that responsibilities for
planning in the 2007 elections were
too fragmented. In order to enhance
coordination and consistency, the
review proposes professionalising the
Returning Officer positions in each
constituency and establishing a Chief
Returning Officer for Scotland.
SOLACE supports the case for greater
consistency across Scotland in election
administration. Returning Officers have
made progress on a voluntary basis over
recent years and will work constructively
with all concerned to extend this in future.
Ultimately, the key message from the
Scottish Elections Review is that the
paramount consideration in elections
should always be the voter. SOLACE
welcomes that message. Returning
Officers will work to ensure that this
focus on the needs of the voter is
reinforced and strengthened in future.
There is a clear need for a discussion,
involving all the key stakeholders,
agencies and professional associations,
to develop a detailed way forward and
implement the necessary changes.
SOLACE (Scotland) is looking forward
to being part of that process.
Tom Aitchison is CEX City of
Edinburgh Council and Lesley
Stevenson is Policy and Research
Officer, SOLACE Scotland
Page 2 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
ScotlandFocus: Radical steps needed in inspection and regulation
One single body could eventually
oversee audit, inspection and
regulation of all public services
in Scotland, according to the
Independent Review of Regulation,
Audit, Inspection and Complaints
Handling of Public Services in Scotland,
chaired by Professor Lorne Crerar.
The review, which makes 42
recommendations to improve the role
of scrutiny within the Scottish public
sector, outlines how public services
could be given greater responsibility to
measure their performance to comply
with regulation and calls for independent
external scrutiny of the NHS.
The review identifies that local
government, which was the first sector
to be required by legislation to comply
with the principles of Best Value, has
experienced significant developments
in external scrutiny in recent years.
The review notes performance
indicators and outcome measures for
local government are being developed
by the Scottish Government and other
stakeholders. It urges that this focus
should continue, with a view to local
government being the first sector in
which self-assessment is the core tool of
accountability, with less reliance on external
scrutiny required. It also recommends
reviewing all cyclical inspection, and
merging corporate assessment processes
into the Best Value audit process.
Until these longer-term changes can be
implemented, the review proposes Ministers
identify and appoint an appropriate
scrutiny body to oversee the delivery of
scrutiny programmes in local government,
aiming to minimise compliance burdens.
A natural candidate, according to the
review, is the Accounts Commission.
Professor Crerar said: ‘The role of scrutiny
is to provide independent assurance that
public services are well-managed, safe,
fit-for-purpose and spending taxpayer’s
money efficiently. All the public bodies
I spoke to agreed that scrutiny was
important, and many were able to point
to benefits. However, those responsible
for providing services were critical of the
current burden they perceived to exist, with
many suggesting that the costs outweigh
the benefits. Having undertaken a wideranging review, I am in no doubt that we
need a more efficient, consistent and
transparent assessment of public services.
‘What I am proposing is radically
different from current arrangements and
could eventually lead to the creation of
one single scrutiny body. I do not underestimate the work that will be required
to deliver it but, given the concerns that
have been expressed to me, and my
own view of the complex arrangements
that have evolved, I believe it is right to
recommend these steps be taken now.’
Other recommendations include:
should assess
existing scrutiny activity with
the aim of reducing activity
l The voice of service users should
be strengthened to develop more
outcome focused public services
l Scrutiny organisations should
collaborate to eliminate duplication
and co-ordinate activity
l Cost/benefit analysis should become
a routine element of any decisions
about the use of external scrutiny
l Ministers
The December edition of the SFI
series covers regulation in England
and is available at: http://www.
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
One Wales closer?
Business partners in
Wales are being kept
up-to-date with local
government issues
through a new business
partner policy briefing.
SOLACE Wales chair
Chris Freegard, MD
Newport CC, offers this review
Interesting times in the public sector
in Wales as the Assembly’s third
term begins to hit its stride. Many
questions were asked after the drawn
out negotiations of the summer, but so
far there has been an atmosphere of
stability and of mature political debate.
As things move forward over the coming
months we in local government will await
with interest the move to implement the
promises of the ‘One Wales’ accord.
As fortunes have fluctuated in the
Assembly, the SOLACE Wales programme
has remained consistent. The Society is
of the firm belief that the public sector in
Wales needs tidying up. Through nobody’s
fault a process of evolution over the
years has left us with an unnecessarily
complex and incoherent system. If
Wales really aspires to be a small, clever
country, then clearing up the public
sector landscape must be a priority.
These are not changes to aspire to
over 20 years. The public services will
be facing a squeeze on resources in the
next three years. The latest financial
settlement has made it absolutely clear
that local government will feel the squeeze
more than other sectors. Clearing up
the bureaucracy will allow services to be
delivered more flexibly and at better cost
to the citizen in the immediate future.
Happily, we have some good experience
in this field. Take Plan Rationalisation for
instance. Central and Local Government
worked together effectively here to reduce
the wasteful and bureaucratic plethora of
plans to a number agreed by both sides
to be manageable and proportionate. We
need now to build on this precedent in four
other areas: improvement; regulation and
inspection; finance; and partnerships.
The Society has already met, in June,
with audit and inspection bodies and will
be discussing Partnership Rationalisation
and Minimum Standards at our annual
meeting with the Welsh Assembly officers
in December. On financial matters, I was
pleased to see the report issued by the
Society of Welsh Treasurers, which called for
a simplification of funding streams in Wales,
a position my colleague Chief Executives and
I wholeheartedly support. These discussions
will form a platform for the SOLACE Wales
Annual Conference, which will take place
in Cardiff City Hall on 13 March 2008.
Numerous other issues continue to vex the
minds of Chief Executives. The problems of
waste and equal pay are yet to be resolved
satisfactorily in many areas of Wales. School
reorganisation remains a problem to be
solved. And of course we must all deal with
the big long-term problems surrounding
climate and demographic change. And
these, I can assure you, are merely the tip
of the ice-berg! As I said, interesting times.
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Northern Ireland
Emerging Findings of the Assembly review
‘Shameful and a
Master class in backpedalling’ – that was
the reaction of SOLACE
DG David Clark to the
Emerging Findings of
the Assembly review of
the RPA. His comments
have been echoed, says
Christine Horner
The NI Executive review of the
local government aspects of the
RPA falls short of empowering
local government to deliver Strong
Effective Local Government. It does
not illustrate how the principles of
focusing on the citizen and improving
the well-being of communities can be
delivered. Nor does it recognise how an
integrated service delivery approach
can achieve greater efficiencies and
effectiveness, nor how transferring
functions to local government can
ensure integration with those services
already provided by councils.
Effective delivery of national policy
objectives can only be met through
empowering local authorities to deliver
social, economical and environmental
gains at a local level. This evidence
was the basis for the original decisions
taken by the then Secretary of State,
Peter Hain and is recognised by both
Governments in Britain and Ireland.
The improvement of quality of life
for communities is dependent on
local government’s ability to provide
leadership, deliver modern services and
shape the places that people live and
work. The proposals for the transfer of
functions fall short of empowering local
government to fulfil this vision and will
limit the ability of both local and central
government to transform itself to focus
on the needs of the citizen in which
regional government can focus on
joining up the local delivery of services.
SOLACE has joined with NILGA
to call on the Executive to review
the proposals to ensure that these
principles can be met. Place Shaping
cannot be achieved by delivering
functions from the centre, while
local councils are well placed to
know what the local priorities are
and can create the opportunities
to encourage opportunity, tackle
disadvantage and promote prosperity.
The Emerging Findings fail to address
the need for clear separation between
policy development and service delivery
in the context of a strategic relationship
with regional government. Indeed
concern has been raised that the new
statutory relationship between local
and regional government is not detailed
and the Executive have been asked to
provide explicit proposals to formally
Page 1 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Northern Ireland
Emerging Findings of the Assembly review
provide for this statutory relationship
to facilitate the development of a
robust and effective interface.
There is also disquiet that the
Department proposes only to transfer
the main budgets and not the attendant
resources such as administration, staff
and skills, estates, and vehicles this
will compound the already restricted
ability to deliver services to the citizen
in a modern and integrated way.
The proposed number of councils
is not dealt with in the Emerging
Findings. It is agreed that local identity
must be balanced with the capacity
to deliver a larger remit of functions
and cognisance must be taken of
local geography, natural communities,
wealth base, employment patterns and
co-terminosity. Delivery models in a
variety of mechanisms, some of which
are already in use could be further
developed for future functions.
The package presented represents
0.4% of Public Sector jobs and 1.25%
of the Public Sector budget. This does
not represent a significant investment
in local government and the efficiency
of reorganising to deliver such a
limited package must be questioned.
Efficiencies of integration of services
into councils and the practical service
delivery improvements if driven by
local development through councils
are important considerations.
SOLACE and NILGA jointly
commissioned a best practice paper
advocating Strong Effective Local
Government in Northern Ireland
that is available on the NI website
facilitated a Business Sector Event to
encourage discussion on the issues
raised and gain their support.
full SOLACE response is currently
being prepared for submission to the
Executive with a view to influencing
the final outcome and informing the
decision making process. Christine
Horner is Executive Officer SOLACE
NI. Read the Emerging Findings
paper at
Page 2 of 2
Viewpoint: Devolution on the agenda
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
President’s Column
will have a profound influence upon the
future of local government in the UK.
In October, Cardiff played host to
the SOLACE Conference, and it was
a real pleasure to see so many local
government colleagues at the event.
The conference was addressed by
a number of excellent speakers,
each of whom provided unique
perspectives upon the central theme:
the need for local government to
Think Global and Act Local.
In recent editions of Focus, I have
discussed some of the themes I hope
to explore during my term as President
of SOLACE. These themes – capacity
and capability, devolution to the local
level and the place of local government
in the modern world – will help shape
the agenda for Chief Executives in the
coming months and years. The move
towards greater devolution in particular
Through participating in the plenary
sessions and workshops at the
conference, it became clear to me that
the devolution agenda was emerging
as a major aspect for discussion. The
address given by the Secretary of State
for Communities and Local Government
saw her confirm the Local Government
White Paper’s promise of ‘a new era of
freedom for town halls’, and marked the
culmination of conference discussions
on the crucial issue of devolving action.
Of course, those present at the
conference, and indeed all SOLACE
members, will be familiar with the move
to bring government closer to citizens
and communities. There is no doubt
that a truly ‘bottom-up’ approach to
policymaking enables local government
to make a contribution at a local level
and create the momentum to tackle the
economic, social and environmental
challenges common to us all.
A major dimension of this reflection
is the devolution process within the
UK, and the roles to be played by
local communities across England,
Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales,
both now and in the future. It is
pleasing to see that SOLACE branches
are playing an active part in the
discussions taking place throughout
the constituent parts of the UK.
Page 1 of 2
Viewpoint: Devolution on the agenda
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
President’s Column
I know that in Wales, the SOLACE
Wales Branch has taken the opportunity
to make a significant professional
contribution to the shaping of policies
that reflect the principles of subsidiarity
in the context of the devolution
agenda. These contributions have
been made in partnership with the
Welsh Local Government Association
and the Welsh Assembly Government,
and have involved the establishment
of close working relationships
with civil servant colleagues.
Excellent work is also taking place
in Branches such as the South West,
whose conference I recently attended;
and the Northern Branch, where I will
be speaking in January on the theme
of developing people in the context
of devolution. Furthermore, when
visiting Northern Ireland recently, I
witnessed the SOLACE Branch playing
a strong role in putting forward the
case for the role of councils in providing
strong civic leadership, delivering
modern services and shaping the
places where people live and work.
It is encouraging to see that SOLACE
is playing its part in articulating the
practitioner viewpoint, and in influencing
policy in the local government arena.
There is no doubt that local authorities,
through their democratically elected
members, have an opportunity to be
a vehicle which can be at the heart of
extending the principles of devolution.
The challenges and opportunities
presented by working within a
devolved context were discussed in
considerable depth at a well-attended
workshop at the SOLACE conference.
The workshop was jointly sponsored
by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the
Welsh Local Government Association,
and participants included Chief
Executives from across the UK. The
group received presentations from
the Chief Executive of the Welsh Local
Government Association and a past
Chair of SOLACE Northern Ireland.
Discussions at the workshop were
centred around the sharing of best
practice and experience, with particular
emphasis placed upon how local
government practitioners can work
together to share common problems
in a devolved environment. The event
provided an extremely useful forum for
discussion of emerging policies, and
of ways in which to place the citizen
at the centre of service provision.
It is clear, then, that the issue of
working in a devolved context will impact
considerably upon Chief Executives
in the future. SOLACE will be at the
forefront of discussions in this area, and
will engage with other public service
professionals to make things happen
in a way that best serves the needs
of our citizens and communities.
l Byron
Davies is the President
of SOLACE and CEx of Cardiff
Page 2 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
The staying power of SOLACE
An increasing number
of SOLACE members
are finding it useful
to hold on to their
SOLACE membership if
they move out of local
government. Andrew
Hudson explains why
The former editor of SOLACE Focus,
Eleri Evans, was a bit surprised to find
my name on the list for the SOLACE
Conference in Cardiff – she knew me
as an Agency Chief Executive, and we
had worked together earlier in the year
on the equivalent journal for the ACE
Association, which brings together
the chiefs of government agencies
and similar bodies. Since we had done
that on the phone and email, it was
good to meet, and I explained why
I was a member of both. Hence this
article, to explain more widely …
I joined SOLACE in about 2001 as a senior
manager member, during my time at Essex
County Council, where I was first Assistant
Chief Executive and then Deputy Chief
Executive. I found it a useful network,
especially as I was new to local government
after spending my career up to then in the
civil service, mostly in the Treasury. When I
decided to move on from Essex, I looked at
jobs in both local and central government,
and in June 2004 became Chief Executive
of the Valuation Office Agency (VOA).
I was very pleased to be able to remain
a member of SOLACE, as a related
organisation. Local authorities are
major customers of the VOA: every
council in England and Wales depends
on us for rating assessments and council
tax bandings , and for ‘right-to-buy’
determinations, and many come to
the District Valuer Services part of our
operations for other valuation work and
advice, which we would like to expand.
So it’s vital to me to maintain a good
understanding of the local government
scene, and SOLACE certainly helps.
I enjoy the conference and the
weekly email. And both my recent
PAs have enjoyed the PAs’ course
– they probably don’t get many
opportunity to talk to other PAs about
their bosses’ foibles with minimal
chance of word getting back!
SOLACE also provides the secretariat
for the ACE association, and that’s
proved a useful relationship on
both sides. I hope that we can look
for opportunities to use the link to
foster more contact between the two
memberships, so it was good to have
Peter Rogers, CEX Westminster, to talk at
the ACE annual dinner earlier in the year.
There’s only been one drawback.
As ACE set its subscriptions at roughly
SOLACE rates, I realised that I had had a
year extra at senior manager rate, even
though I was now a grown-up chief exec!
I owned up and paid up. You can’t put a
value on honesty, can you?
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Still hungry for change
SOLACE senior
vice president Trish
Haines reports from
the Institute of Local
Government Managers
Conference in Port
Elizabeth, South Africa
Walk down Govan
Mbeki Avenue in
Port Elizabeth,
South Africa, and
you can almost see
a direct correlation
between the
happening there
and what is going on in local government
in South Africa. The pace of change is
tremendous - new buildings, shops and
housing, new organisations to deliver it
all, and a newly emerging social order
to live in it. And yet underlying this are
some fairly basic problems, not very
different from the ones we face in the UK.
The South African people, 14 years
after the end of apartheid, are both
hungry and impatient for more change.
The consumer society is alive and well
in Port Elizabeth and elsewhere, but you
can clearly hear the frustrations of the
shop-keepers, who spoke of delays in
completion; and the builders undertaking
the construction and renovation, who
spoke of last minute decision making;
and the shortage of infrastructure
to support the new developments.
In many areas, people are frustrated
and dismayed by what they see as the
slow pace of change. Over the past
year, protests have taken place from
Johannesburg in the north, to Capetown
in the south, over the pace and direction
of change. But these aren’t limited to
protest marches and demonstrations
at council meetings. In one area, local
citizens made clear their frustration and
displeasure by burning down the newly
built schools, because there still wasn’t
the promised place for every child.
What is clear is that dismantling
the previous system, necessary
though that was, has not always led
to the improvements both needed
and demanded by the people. And
there is a difference of view between
central and local government about
who is to blame for delays.
One of the frustrations felt by local
government has a resonance for us
here - central government reluctance to
allow local councils to be wholly in control
of their own budgets. In particular, the
creation of external delivery agencies,
running in parallel with the councils,
has led in some cases to the agencies
becoming more powerful than the elected
representatives who supposedly control
them. In part, this has been because the
agencies are funded direct from central
Page 1 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Still hungry for change
government, which means they have
been able to spend their money without
always taking account of local views, an
option not available to local councils.
Like us, too, South Africa has an issue
with the divisions of responsibility
between Chief Executives and Executive
Mayors. The Executive Mayor is a political
animal, but also an executive decision
maker. Lines of accountability can be
unclear between the officer and the
councillor, but there can also be a lack
of clarity about when the Executive
Mayor is representing their council or
their political party. This was the single
biggest issue debated at the conference.
In case you think that the changes have
failed - they haven’t. The pace of new
building, the pace of inward investment,
and the self-confidence of the people
running local government is tangible.
But they are cramming into little more
than a decade, learning that elsewhere
has taken much longer to achieve.
One of the things that most impressed
me at the conference was the sheer drive
and energy of senior managers to drive
forward change, while also being aware
that the world is watching their progress.
The chutzpah of preparing for the World
Cup (which takes place in South Africa in
2010) virtually from scratch is a big deal
for Port Elizabeth. A new stadium, hotels,
and massive investment in road, rail and
air links, are all to be completed in the
next three years. The attitude of the Port
Elizabeth council is not that we have to
do this, but that we can do this together.
And that means there are some rough
edges - the South African approach to
equality is very different to the UK. A view
emerged very quickly after the overthrow
of apartheid that a traditional approach
to equal opportunities would simply
take too long to make real change, and
so a form of positive action developed
which, for example, gives job priorities
to Africans, with recruitment quotas set
for all employers. It makes sense, until
you talk to those who no longer have
equality of opportunity, including the
‘Cape Coloured’ population which feels it
lost out under the old and new regimes.
And yet, in the middle of the new, there
is still room for the old. The international
delegates (from UK, Australia and
Namibia) were entertained by traditional
dancers and musicians. They were young
men and women aged 15-20, who were
proud of their cultural heritage, and
delighted to have a chance to show it off.
Much of the history of South Africa is
written in blood over the past century,
but as white delegates in a mainly black
conference, we sensed no hostility,
only openness and hospitality. It was a
privilege to be included in the discussions
which our opposite numbers were
having about how to shape the future
of their country, without any hint of
cynicism, and with a terrific sense of
commitment and enthusiasm. This
is a big country with a big future.
Page 2 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Lifting Burdens
Michael Frater looks at the road ahead for the Lifting the
Burdens Taskforce
It has now been well over a year since
Ruth Kelly set up the Lifting the Burdens
Task Force to advise government on
how Whitehall can loosen its grip on
councils through reducing bureaucracy.
Over the past 12 months there has been
a growing consensus in Government
that red tape is holding back public
services from achieving the best results
for citizens. We have seen more and
more Government initiatives aimed
at deregulating the public sector
and the Task Force has established
itself as a unique and credible voice
of local government practitioners
who feel the impact on the ground.
This is an opportune moment to secure
a real handing down of responsibility
from central to local government and
the new National Indicator Set that Hazel
Blears announced in October shows that
Government is listening. We welcome
the reduction in indicators to 198 and
can see that Whitehall departments have
responded to our calls for fewer and
more effective targets particularly in the
areas of housing, planning, environment
and cultural services. It is positive to
see that a major cause of burden to
local government – that of duplication
– has been eliminated from this set
of targets, so councils will no longer
have to send the same information
to different parts of government;
they will collect once and share.
But a reduction in performance
targets alone will not get us to where
we want to be. There is a lot of work
still to be done if we are going to see
a real lifting of the burden on local
government. Here are a few of the areas
where we are focusing our efforts:
The difference between
performance management and
reporting everything else.
The 198 indicators are certainly a
cutback in central prescription of
local priorities but this does not
automatically mean that less will be
asked for through statistics, financial
information, surveys, reports and
forms – all of which consume local
resources without always supporting
local delivery. We will be working closely
with central departments to make sure
that only the absolutely necessary
national data returns stay in place.
Page 1 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Lifting Burdens
Definitions of
performance indicators.
Cooperation from all
national bodies.
We want to be sure that what gets
measured in the new framework is
realistic, practicable and as close as
possible to the outcomes that we are all
aiming for. Together with the LGA we
are organising a consultative event for
councils in December to help us respond
effectively to CLG’s consultation on
the definitions of its new indicators.
A series of independent national
agencies seem to be out of step
with the Government’s burden
reduction commitment and are
proposing additional performance
indicators and data returns. The
Task Force will be campaigning
to keep any new requirements on
councils to an absolute minimum.
Genuinely ‘light touch’
Challenging Whitehall culture.
We are supporting the Audit
Commission’s efforts in drawing up
a single inspection framework for
local government which is genuinely
risk based and sees an end to rolling
inspection programmes. CAA also needs
to be meaningful to the public if it’s
going to be effective on the ground.
Task Force reviews of the Department of
Health, the Home Office, HM Treasury
and the Department for Children
Schools and Families are all underway
currently. As much as anything it is
the working relationship with these
big players in Whitehall and their trust
of local authorities to deliver on their
own that we hope to influence.
At the same time the local government
sector needs to show that it is ready to
take mature decisions and use its new
freedoms to deliver real improvements.
My sincere thanks to all who attended
our workshop and to SOLACE for
organising it. It provided helpful
input into our current reviews and
helped to shape our future reviews.
Our thematic review of Economic
Development and our Transport
review will be underway shortly.
We would be pleased to hear from
SOLACE members who would like to join
roundtable meetings for these reviews
– please email benjamin.wilkinson@ More information at www.
Page 2 of 2
Conference 2007 report
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Wide horizons
The municipal mindset is
no longer enough. Byron
Davies, SOLACE president
and Cardiff CEX urges
local government leaders
to look to the world
The paradox of globalisation has been
the rediscovery of local government
across the world. The Prime Minister has,
himself, made clear his disagreement
with the old adage that ‘the man in
Whitehall knows bests’. That was the
message of Cardiff CEX Byron Davies.
In Europe, there was a strong appetite
for a citizen-centred approach anchored
in elected local government, he told
SOLACE Conference meeting in Cardiff.
Across a growing Europe, the development
of a local focus for democracy and
public decision-making was becoming
vital. It was a critique of centralism
increasingly accepted in the UK.
In Australia, Canada and the USA,
communities had actively influenced local
government, with that influence passing up
to state and federal levels. In South Africa,
restructured systems of local government
had dealt with profound and challenging
issues on behalf of their communities.
It was a good time for professional
bodies like SOLACE to add its practitioners
views and understanding of local
government to those of colleagues in local
government associations and national
government. ‘Between us all,’ he said. ‘We
need to work on establishing government
policies that can be effectively delivered
by local government. There is a need
for us all to work on a more trusting
relationship between tiers of government.’
And there were real opportunities
for local government to demonstrate
though deeds the advantages of such
a citizen-based approach. In England,
Multi Area Agreements and Local Area
Agreements were beginning to change
the ways in which local government did
business with central government.
In Scotland, there were innovative
ways of working between cities and
neighbouring authorities and close
working between the Scottish Executive
and local authorities in transforming
public services. In Northern Ireland,
a manifesto launched by SOLACE
and the Northern Ireland Local
Government Association, called for
greater citizen and community power.
In Wales, close working with the Welsh
Assembly Government was establishing
Local Service Boards that were beginning
to realise the potential of working beyond
traditional organisational boundaries to
create a truly citizen-centred approach
to delivering public services.
‘Devolution,’ he said, ‘is serving to
encourage a range of public service
reform models that can stand international
comparison.’ But he warned: ‘The
danger inherent in such reform models
is that we succumb to parochialism.’
SOLACE had started its own process of
devolution through strengthening the role
of national branches and regions working
with a common SOLACE framework.
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December 2007
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Wide horizons
This showed a commitment to
change and an acknowledgment
of the devolution process.
‘What is needed now,’ he challenged, ‘is
a common UK framework to recognise
and respond to the challenges of
internationalism. Local authorities
should be outward-looking to exploit
the advantages that are emerging.’
He instanced Cardiff’s regeneration
strategy had been influenced by
international partnerships. The
development of Cardiff was shaped by
the city’s relationship with Baltimore, the
evolution and marketing of the Millennium
Stadium owed a lot to discussions with San
Francisco. ‘What followed,’ he said, ‘was the
city’s hosting of the European Summit of
1998 and the Rugby World Cup of 1999.’
Now Cardiff was seeking to develop
new international alliances, including
relationships with San Francisco and Ottawa
on next generation technology and a
Californian company on renewable energy.
Local government chief executives
would, increasingly, have to move from
a ‘municipal’ mindset, one concerned
with narrow service delivery, to one
concerned with the role of councils as
community champions and shapers
of place in an international context.
There was a profound demographic
challenge with birth rates declining and
populations ageing. This was a serious
problem and it was compounded by a
new market in terms of recruitment and
retention. A new generation of young
people placed a high priority on work-life
balance and saw the opportunities of
internationalism in a different context.
He said: ‘We have a number of unfair
stereotypes which have grown up
around the image of careers in local
government, which could place us at a
disadvantage in future recruitment and
retention. We need to tackle a still oldfashioned employer brand that paints
local government as at best staid and
at worst a graveyard of ambition.’
Local government needed to
place itself at the forefront of global
change and influence though local
action. It needed to find and develop
a pool of next generation leaders.
He said: ‘There exists a need to create
a career path right across Europe and a
platform from which we can exchange best
practice, perhaps through standardising
qualifications such a Master of Public
Administration throughout Europe.
This highlights the need for a distinctive
Professional Route Map for the public
services though which young people can
embark upon a route leading ultimately to
Chartered Public Service Executive status.’
SOLACE was preparing a collaborative
arrangement with the Federation of
European Local Authority Chief Executives
to pilot a professional accreditation
scheme modelled around a scheme
that operates in North America.
He concluded: ‘This, to me, is what
thinking global, acting local is all about. My
aim is for our conclusions at this conference
to be presented in a strategy that can
be shared within the UK at professional
and government levels and through our
international networks with other countries.’
Page 2 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
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and Senior Managers
Making vision real
Now councils have
the chance to know
best, says Government
Cabinet Minister.
It’s time to take the
When other cities want to see how an
ex-industrial area can thrive in the modern
world, they look to Cardiff Bay. Those were
the words of Communities Secretary Hazel
Blears. ‘The collapse of the coal industry
left unemployment, empty buildings,
derelict docks,’ she said. ‘Today we see
a busy local economy, a huge rise in the
creative sector, unemployment halved.’
She told SOLACE Conference that Cardiff,
like so many other cities in the UK, had
undergone a genuine renaissance over
the past ten years. It was a testament
to the hard work of leaders in Cardiff.
‘They listened to the community.
They articulated a vision of what this city
Communities Secretary
has a surprise meeting
with old school friend Chris
Bocock, Malvern Hills CEx
could be – not a casualty of globalisation but
a capital in control of its destiny,’ she said.
‘They took on the hard work of making
that vision real. And so it’s only fitting that
when people want to see how devolution
can deliver, they look to Cardiff Bay. In the
face of global challenges, local government
can be the solution,’ she insisted. ‘Local
leaders can and should be ambitious about
delivering what people want and need.’
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Making vision real
Blears said she was inspired by the
‘localist moment’. The ‘new localism’
had moved from the fringes of debate to
the centre of the Government’s agenda.
The Prime Minister had called for a
definitive end to ‘Whitehall knows best.
But we are winning the public debate
not because localism is an end in itself
but because of what it can achieve.’
She believed it was the way to capture
local people’s enthusiasm and enlist them
in making their communities stronger,
through volunteering, setting up social
enterprises, or even standing as governors,
magistrates or councillors. It was the way
to empower councils and active citizens
and equip them to take on some of the
major challenges we face as a society.
Two of the pressing issues where local
government was expertly placed to
take a lead, and was already doing so
in many places, were the challenges of
guns and gangs and of climate change.
On the first, she instanced the ‘Our
Safety, Our Lambeth’ campaign.
On the second, one village in Cheshire
and another in Somerset that had decided
to ‘go zero’ on their carbon footprints.
The Communities Secretary took the
opportunity of the conference to announce
the ‘next practical steps on devolution’.
She said: ‘Last year’s Local Government
White Paper promised a new era of
freedom for town halls, a huge cut in red
tape, and a new, more mature relationship
between Whitehall and the town hall. Today
Government is living up to that promise.’
She said the new ‘national indicator set’
to assess local government would be a list
of just 198 measures, a ‘huge reduction’
from the previous figure of around 1,200.
The new indicators would focus on
outcomes, not on mechanisms and
processes. There would be a change,
too, in the way the data was collected.
In the past, different and overlapping
ways of measuring had been used in
councils, the police and the NHS. ‘Now
all public sector bodies will be working
to a single measure,’ she said.
A group of the indicators would form
the targets for improvement in Local Area
Agreements. The Government would not
set any new mandatory targets.
But that did not mean ‘anything goes’.
Blears told delegates: ‘This is your
opportunity to demonstrate a mature
approach to government, not waiting for
permission from Whitehall but going ahead
with what people tell you they want.’
She challenged them: ‘Ultimately the
way to make the case for local devolution
is not through theoretical principle but to
show it can make a difference to people’s
everyday lives, creating stronger, safer
and more prosperous communities. I
believe you can pave the way to take
devolution further. I believe you have
an opportunity to change people’s
mindsets for a generation to come.’
But she warned: ‘Fail to do so – the
localist moment will pass, perhaps for
a generation or more. Get it seriously
wrong and we will not hesitate to act.
But get it right and the opportunity
is vast.’
Page 2 of 2
December 2007
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Proud to be Welsh
Wales is no longer
a hidden secret or a
forgotten country, says
Wales First Minister
People’s perspective of life in Wales
is about five years out of date. Since
devolution the number of jobs in the
country have gone up by 12%, the
speed in rise of domestic household
income is more rapid than almost every
part of the UK and infant mortality
rates in Wales are better than England,
Scotland and Northern Ireland.
These were just some of the examples
Rhodri Morgan AM, First Minister
for Wales, shared with conference
in telling the ‘good story’ that Wales
has to tell. ‘There are an awful lot of
positives to tell about Wales, though
you would never think that if you read
the Welsh press. You’d think everyone
who was alive yesterday had either
been mugged on their way home
from work or was lying on a hospital
trolley unable to access a bed,’ he said.
‘I think, for one reason or another,
people’s perspective of life in Wales is
about five years behind the curve.’
Wales had needed devolution. ‘We needed
devolution to put ourselves on the world
stage,’ said Morgan. ‘Up until then Wales
was a hidden secret, a forgotten country.
Scotland is 60% bigger than Wales but it
had an international profile that was more
than 60% bigger than Wales. Ireland, that
was not even 60% bigger than Wales,
had a 100 times bigger profile than Wales.
Devolution gave us a once in a lifetime
opportunity to be confident as a country
and to be proud of what we are doing.’
There had been an ‘unimaginable
transformation’ since devolution.
Companies like IBM, BT and Motorola
were putting brain-power to work in Wales
in partnership with its universities.
He said: ‘Cardiff University is one of
the few universities in the UK with
two Nobel prize winners on its staff.
This is the kind of message we have
to get across. Wales is heading in the
right direction. Come back in five or
10 years time and you will be amazed
at the even greater transformation.’
December 2007
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Under fire
A Question Time panel
of migrant workers,
including Ai Qin Lin, star
of the Nick Broomfield
documentary Ghosts,
under scrutiny
Come to Great Britain. Guaranteed jobs.
Guaranteed wages. Guaranteed place to
live and no need to learn the language.
This is the reality of UK employment
agencies advertising in Poland
through the eyes of Polish robotics
computer engineer Michal Kosmider.
He told conference that people in
Poland ‘meet with many’ adverts
encouraging them to come to Great
Britain. They promise £6 an hour,
promise to arrange everything for
you and say there is no need to learn
the language because you will be
working with 150 other Polish people.
The reality for Michal was a little
different. The work he had been
promised fell through vand he ended up
in a packing factory where the harder
the 150 migrant workers worked the
faster the piece rate limits rose. ‘It was
crazy. The money was very, very bad
and the pressure and atmosphere was
my worst experience in the UK,’ he said.
Michal, who today works in a steadier
job in another factory, was one of
a panel of five migrant workers
who spoke to SOLACE conference
about their experiences as migrants
living and working in the UK.
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Under fire
In response to a question asking why they
had to come to the UK, the three Polish
members of the panel replied that the
similar culture and the fact they could
all speak a little English, combined with
Poland acceding to the EU in May 2004
and the aforementioned advertising,
made England an obvious destination.
Talking through an interpreter, Ai Qin
Lin, a Chinese migrant who started life in
the UK as an illegal immigrant, said the
difference in culture between China and
Britain had made adapting to a British
way of life hard. ‘The language has been
a real block for me in integrating into
the British way of life,’ she said. ‘My son
won’t have the same problem but for me
my cultural background is so different
from the British it will take a long time.’
Richard Koskinski, who has a Master’s in
economics from Katowice University and
currently checks and tests mobile phones
in a Midlands factory, said he had been
helped in settling into the British way of
life after befriending a British family.
He said: ‘It is much easier to experience
the British way of life when you know
a British family. When you spend time
together it is not only the language
you are learning but you are learning
the culture, too, and exchanging
experiences. We are changing the way
of life we used to live in Poland.’
Asked whether the panel felt part of a
migrant community or a UK community,
Zahra Charaffdeen, a 17-year-old A level
student born in Lebanon and evacuated
to Britain in July 2006, said even though
her father was a British Commonwealth
citizen she did not feel British.
‘I feel part of my school and part of the
village where I live but I cannot say I am
part of the UK community,’ she said. ‘I am
part of a Muslim or Arabic community.
We have different traditions, different
language, many things are different. Maybe
I am a part of a part of the UK community.’
Zahra and Richard were both keen to
see improved opportunities for migrants.
Zahra asked why, if her father was a
British citizen, was her future in the
UK uncertain. She would like to go to
university but couldn’t plan anything
because she did not know if she would be
allowed to stay. She also asked why her
sister who had a good degree and good
English skills seemed unable to get a job.
Richard, too, asked why it was
UK-born employees with fewer skills and
experience seemed to get promotions
over much better qualified immigrants.
He feared people like himself were
being discriminated against. He
said it was not difficult for migrant
workers to get a job in the UK, the
difficulty was getting a better job.
In response to a question by Darra
Singh as to whether there should be
a minimum requirement of speaking
English to enter the UK, the panel
felt it wouldn’t be a huge problem for
people from central Europe where a
lot of people knew a little bit of English
but for people from Africa and Asia
it could be much more of a barrier.
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Opinion divided
Council CEXs and
public don’t agree
on importance of
are not as
worried about
as the general
public. There
is a huge
gap between council CEXs and local
residents over perceptions of the
political importance of immigration.
Ben Page, MD Ipsos MORI, told
conference that one of the very
interesting things to emerge in a survey
of SOLACE members by Ipsos in the run
up to conference was that most members
didn’t think immigration was one of the
most important issues facing the UK.
‘We know through work we did for Darra
Singh’s Commission on immigration that
it is a big problem for the British public,’
said Page. ‘As a country we are absolutely
obsessed with immigration. Some 46%
say immigration is a problem compared
with 12% in France and 8% in Germany.’
Interestingly, there was a huge dichotomy
about people’s view of immigration
nationally and locally. ‘When we asked if
immigration was a problem, 76% said yes,’
he said. ‘When we asked them how much
of a problem it was in their local area they
said it wasn’t a problem. They said, Oh,
it’s fine here but absolutely dreadful
everywhere else. How did they know,
we asked. I read about it or somebody
told me, they said. This suggests this
could be the work of wicked journalists.’
The public seemed to agree that
immigration was good for the economy
but divided over whether immigrants took
the jobs that British people didn’t want to
do or got unfair priority in public services.
Page said: ‘When we asked this sort of
question 16 years ago it was single mums
who came in for all the flak. They were
accused of getting flats and TVs now it
is asylum seekers. The average person
in the UK thinks an asylum seeker gets
£130 a week, a flat and a colour TV.
I don’t know what the actual figures are
but I am sure you know them better than
I do and they are no near that much.’
Interestingly, the survey had tested
out a theory of Britishness on SOLACE
members. Here members were
‘surprisingly normal’, said Page.
He said: ‘You thought issues of
tolerance and politeness, freedom of
speech, respect for the law, equality
of opportunity, justice and fair play
were important. What I think is
very interesting in this debate on
Britishness is that there is something
that unites us and it is about issues
of tolerance and fair play.’
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
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Leading questions
Why should people be
led by you? This is the
question for people who
want to improve their
leadership skills, says
Professor Gareth Jones
When you go back to the office after
SOLACE conference will your colleagues
say, ‘Oh great!’ or ‘Oh no!’ Effective
leadership, Professor Gareth Jones
told conference, was about ‘exciting’
people to ‘exceptional performance that
transforms lives’. ‘Are you exciting?’
he asked SOLACE members.
The trouble with leadership theories
was they had concentrated on who
got to the top and what people at
the top had to say about leadership.
Both of these were very interesting
questions but they revealed nothing
about leadership. ‘We have been
asking the wrong questions,’ he said.
‘A better question might be, What do
followers want? What do the people
you aspire to lead want from you?’
Jones, together with Professor
Rob Goffee, asked just under 1,000
followers what they wanted from
their leaders. Firstly, he said, they
wanted a sense of community. ‘They
want to part of something. They
want to identify with something.’
Followers want significance. He said:
‘There is a famous story in management
circles that when President Kennedy
visited Nasa he spoke to a man sweeping
the floor and asked him what he was
doing. He replied he was putting a man
on the moon. I’ve no idea if that story is
true or not but it is a great story about
leadership. Somebody had made that
person feel really, really important.
‘I have subsequently become very
interested in reception staff because
they are very often an organisation’s
first contact with customers and
they are hugely variable. Because
they are often at the bottom of an
organisation’s hierarchy, their work is
not made to feel significant. Do you
make your followers feel significant?’
Followers want excitement. ‘Employees
want to be excited by their leaders,’
he said. ‘How will your colleagues
feel when you get back to the office
after SOLACE conference? Will they
say, Oh great. So-and-so is back from
conference, bursting with new ideas, or
will they say. Oh no. Misery-guts is back.
What will he be moaning about now?’
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Leading questions
Leadership is contextual. He said:
‘Leading in a local authority is different
to leading in a steel yard. Leading
in a music company is different to
leading in a pharmaceutical company.
Leadership is about relationships. There
are no leaders without followers.
‘Leadership is non-hierarchical. When
I first studied leadership in the British
Army I assumed it would be hierarchical.
I was wrong. Military organisations
realise you can’t be hierarchical. As
soon as the first mortar bomb kills
the leaders the troops can’t wait for
personnel to send over new leaders.
Military organisations have to invent
themselves from the bottom up.
Former US president Bill Clinton was
known for his charm, said Jones.
‘We interviewed 20 people who have
met him, they all said the same thing
– He made me feel like I was the only
person in the room and he held my
hand a little too long. He knows what
works for him and he’s got better and
better at it. What works for you?’
He advised delegates to reveal
weakness. ‘If you don’t reveal your
weaknesses your followers will find them
out or make them up. If two years ago
Charles Kennedy, former leader of the
Liberal Democrats, had said I have an
alcohol problem and I am seeking help
he would still have a career. He might not
be leader but he would have a career.
Whatever people thought of Tony
Blair’s politics, there was no getting
away from his authenticity, he said.
Taking a week in his life, he showed how
he had been the ‘oily diplomat’ winning
votes for London in the Olympics bid,
a ‘global statesman’ at the G8 summit
in Gleneagles, and the ‘voice of the
nation’ after the London bombing in
July 2007 when he said we will not
let them change our way of life.
He said: ‘His behaviour in those
three examples, all from the same
week, were different but authentic.
Being authentic does not mean you
behave in the same way all the time
Who behaves at home the same as
they behave at work? Authenticity
is about adjusting to context.’
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Global has local impact
Local economic plans
are a key part of
Local economic development officers,
policies and agencies, first ‘invented’
as an alternative to national policies
20 years ago, ‘matter more’ today as a
result of globalisation than ever before.
Greg Clark, advisor on city and regional
development to UK Government,
told conference that the UK needed
strong local frameworks as well
as strong national government if
it was to make sense of the global
economy and its opportunities.
Clark, who started work as a local
authority economic development officer
said the role had been invented as an
alternative to national policies. ‘We were
in the height of de-industrialisation in
the UK. These days we are seeing the
reintegration of a local economic role
into a clear regional and national system
for economic performance,’ he said.
science and the knowledge economy
and inclusion and openness,’ he said.
Globalisation meant local economic
development mattered more but was
different to the other services of local
government. He said: ‘It isn’t primarily
citizen-facing. It primarily faces a
group of stakeholders that includes
businesses, investors, commuters,
tourists and trades who don’t have
a vote in local authority elections.
‘I think the most interesting question
is not what does the global economy
do for the locality but what can the
locality do for the global economy to
shape, fashion and drive its engagement
with the global economy so it can
succeed for its citizens, its businesses
and for the long-term cultural and
physical endowment of its locality.
‘The difficulty is how to enfranchise the
local economic stakeholders who may
be particularly pro-growth versus the
local, residential electorate who may
have different aspirations for their area.’
‘The challenge for local leadership is to
recognise and promote its niches, its
advantages, its unique contribution.’
‘We used to talk about housing
strategies, education strategies and local
economic strategies. Today we are much
more likely to talk about population
and investment strategies. We are
much more likely to talk about climate,
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
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Boundaries blur
Security, economic
well-being, prosperity
and social development
need to be debated at an international – not national – level
The distinction between international
and domestic policy often has no
validity. Sir Emyr Jones Parry –
until recently, Britain’s man at the
UN – told conference that it was the
successful pursuit of foreign policy
that was fundamental to our security,
our economic well-being, and to our
prosperity and social development.
‘Many of the most difficult issues faced
by our national, regional and local
governments have their origin outside
the UK, so tackling those problems
requires international partnerships
and co-operation,’ he said.
Tackling policy in an international
framework was not easy. ‘In Brussels
20 years ago I was arguing that
environmental issues were properly left
to the nation state. Today that seems
totally unrealistic. Tackling pollution in
air, water or on land cannot be done
individually, any more than a local
authority can cope with emissions if its
neighbour is doing nothing,’ he said.
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Boundaries blur
‘If states don’t collectively take action
they will collectively suffer.’ As an
example he said that two weeks after the
Sars epidemic appeared to be developing
in China, people were dying in Toronto.
Sir Emyr had been horrified to discover
the extent of human trafficking. ‘We
face today, on the anniversary of
the 200th anniversary of the Act to
end transatlantic slavery, the worst
sort of modern day slavery. In the
last 10 years, probably 20 million
people have been traded in Asia;
100,000 people in the Ukraine have
gone missing in the last two years.’
Climate change was perhaps the biggest
threat we face. It risked damaging the
world’s social, biological and economical
systems. He said: ‘We can no more
isolate ourselves from the consequences
of climate change than Canute could
stop the tide in the 10th century.’
One of the achievements he was
most pleased with was getting the
security council of the UN to address
climate change. ‘In that debate the
foreign minister of the Maldives
stood up and said if temperatures
and sea levels continue to rise
there will be no more Maldives.’
‘For places like Russia and Canada,
warmer weather might make their
countries nicer places to be but 30
million people in Bangladesh will have no
where to live if their country is flooded
and 30 million people will have to find
somewhere else to live. That is why
climate change needs to be addressed.
Turning to the issue of international
development, he said there was a
moral imperative for all levels of
government to help developing countries
meet the Millennium Development
Goals and to provide some sort of
prospect for much of human kind.
To people who argued they had
problems in their own cities and asked
why they should waste money on the
developing world, his answer was:
‘We have to tackle all the problems.
We have to chew gum and walk at
the same time. Countries like Dafur
and Somalia are of direct interest to
us not just for self-seeking economic
and trade reasons but crucially for
political and security reasons.
Page 2 of 2
December 2007
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Commonwealth connections
The benefits of being a member of the
Commonwealth Local Government
Forum are not just for developing
countries. CLGF Secretary-General Carl
Wright emphasised the advantages
of membership at a special breakfast
meeting at SOLACE Conference.
Knowledge sharing was one of the
Forum’s key aims. He said: ‘We can
all learn from good practice and
experience in other countries. Links with
Commonwealth countries usually have
many economic as well as social and
cultural spin-offs. Reports from CLGF
partnership projects have shown the
huge benefits to the councils involved
in both sides of the partnership.’
Community cohesion was an area
where partnerships could help.
As UK communities had become
more and more diverse, fostering
traditional links with local councils in
Commonwealth countries had helped
some UK councils understand and
improve services for ethnic minorities
and improve community cohesion.
By way of example, he said, the London
Borough of Southwark, which has a
big diaspora community from Sierra
Leone, had developed links with Sierra
Leone; Birmingham had links with local
government in Bangladesh and many
northern cities had developed links with
relevant areas in India and Pakistan.
Wright also pointed to the excellent
staff development opportunities.
More than 20 UK councils had been
involved with the CLGF Good Practice
Scheme in which projects had focused
on a particular activity, such as town
planning, developing local tourism to
boost economic development, or looking
at a specific service such as waste
disposal or responding to HIV/AIDs.
‘Successful international work is
mainstreamed into the council’s overall
plans and involves different service
areas, rather than being seen as a
separate area of work,’ he said.
Somerset CEX Alan Jones emphasised
the many benefits to councils but
said councils should also recognise a
social responsibility to help. He said:
‘There was a tremendous response
from local government when the
tsumani struck parts of Asia in
December 2005, with many councils
offering help and expertise as well as
fundraising through their communities.
Councils should tap in to this public
support for using their expertise to
assist developing countries as part of
CLGF’s ongoing work to encourage
and improve local government
throughout the Commonwealth.’
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Commonwealth connections
An issue that continued to worry CEXs
was how to justify funding for such
activities when the press and public
might see visits to other countries
in negative terms. Jones said that
programmes such as the Good Practice
Scheme were essential in offering
a small amount of money to help
local authorities ‘pump prime’ their
partnerships to work with overseas
local government so that local taxpayers money was not used.
for staff development through
international working if they were to
attract and retain high calibre staff.
‘Staff development is not just for senior
managers,’ he said. ‘We need to think
about how we can attract more young
people into local government when we
are competing internationally with a
wide range of jobs and companies.’
started on international development.
Baker said: ‘Everyone should recognise
how much we can learn from others in
developing good practice and new ideas.’
CLGF is funded through its members and
its activities. Membership for individual
UK councils is between £800 and £1300
depending on the size of the authority.
But he warned that partnerships should
be established for a purpose that
would bring benefits to both partners
and not just to chase grants. Councils
should have strategies for publicising
their international work to show the
benefits to their communities.
Delegates at the session were keen to
compare the roles and responsibilities
of chief executives in different countries
to enable cross-country working and
exchanges. One suggestion was for
CLGF and SOLACE to investigate the
possibility of an international standard
for chief officer qualifications that could
be recognised in different countries.
Cardiff CEX and SOLACE President
Byron Davies said local authorities
should be forward-looking and should
start to think about opportunities
Staffordshire Moorlands CEX and CLGF
Board member Simon Baker, who
chaired the session, said CLGF provided
valuable support for councils getting
More information at:
Page 2 of 2
Ordnance Survey
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Geographic Information making a difference
More than 400 local
authority delegates
have attended special
training to get the best
out of their geographic
In September Ordnance Survey announced
that OS MasterMap had been adopted by
every single local authority in Scotland
and Wales. Those organisations, alongside
90% of their English counterparts, now
have the opportunity to harness the real
power of geographic information (GI) to
improve the lives of everyday citizens.
To help local government exploit
the full value of GI, Ordnance
Survey has been running a series
of 16 special ‘Getting the most out
of OS MasterMap’ seminars.
Over 400 delegates attended the
courses, held across the country between
July and October to much acclaim.
Talks ranged from policy making to
service route planning and breakout
sessions gave attendees the chance
to share ideas and talk about their
own experiences. From improving
school transport to battling climate
change and addressing waste
management, Ordnance Survey
data has been behind a myriad of
innovative and successful projects.
Every year local authorities spend
hundreds of thousands of pounds on
environmental and transport services.
The use of GI can make a real difference
in improving efficiencies and quality.
Daventry DC is taking advantage of
OS MasterMap Integrated Transport
Network (ITN) Layer to help plan the
area’s refuse collection service.
Simon Hume, GIS Officer at Daventry,
said, ‘ITN Layer has made it possible
to optimise existing refuse rounds and
minimise the requirement for new
ones. As a result, we expect to achieve
savings of around £25 000 per year.’
Such has been the success of the
project that the council now plans
to work with Northamptonshire CC
on extending the use of ITN Layer
to other localities as part of the
Northamptonshire Waste Partnership.
Ordnance Survey data has also been
in action with local authorities across
Great Britain commissioning ‘heatloss’ studies. These have delivered
a graphic illustration of the energy
efficiency of local buildings – founded
on OS MasterMap Topography Layer.
Dan Cookson, Director of SeeIT, the
technology company behind a study
for the London Borough of Haringey,
commented, ‘The project uses Ordnance
Survey mapping throughout, allowing
this important heat loss information
to be easily accessed via the Web.
Page 1 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Ordnance Survey
Geographic Information making a difference
This allows citizens and businesses
within Haringey to explore the data
for themselves, thereby helping to
raise environmental awareness.’
From counting the cost of energy
inefficiency to counting heads, the 2011
Census may be four years away but
preparations are already well underway.
As a part of that process, Ordnance
Survey’s flagship addressing data,
OS MasterMap Address Layer 2, is
currently being tested by the Office
of National Statistics (ONS).
It has achieved around 98%
completeness after just two years since
launch. Measurement against the most
challenging set of requirements from any
Ordnance Survey customer has given
an excellent benchmark for the product.
Further assessment by ONS over the next
few months will show the improvements
that have already been delivered.
Page 2 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Empowering Communities using Tools and technologies
More and more
residents are interacting
with government online
but we haven’t gone far enough, says Rita Wilson
Technology is changing the world
around us in so many ways - and local
government needs to understand
what the implications of this are and
how to adapt. When it comes to citizen
participation and involvement, there is
a need to move away from traditional
town hall techniques and move to
engage with people in ways that make
sense to them – from learning how to
connect with young people through
on-line networks like Facebook to
understanding how on-line petitions
can create a powerful voice in ways
that paper based tools never could.
Communities of interest have been
firmly established through the explosion
in reality TV, with programmes like
Big Brother and X-Factor uniting large
sections of the population and allowing
them to influence decisions collectively,
be it through texting, phoning or email.
If we could create similar communities,
with citizens influencing everything
from planning decisions to their child’s
education instead of evicting Big Brother
housemates, then we’d be on to a winner.
(ICELE), the Department for Communities
and Local Government has provided a
focal point for understanding how tools
and technologies can be used to for the
benefit of the democratic process.
Local authorities are experimenting with
this in so many ways – from the use of
online consultation to underpin Local
Development Frameworks to Councillors
blogging to have a different quality
of dialogue with their communities.
We’re already part of the way there,
with technology now replicating and
far outstripping the experience of
old-school democracy. More and
more residents around the country
are now interacting with government
from behind their PCs, from paying
online to reporting abandoned
vehicles. But imagine a world where
we can directly influence decisions of
local and national importance from
home, our laptop or mobile phone.
By establishing the International Centre
of Excellence for Local eDemocracy
The Centre was formally launched
in October 2006 and since then
has built firm foundations to ensure
the reputation for excellence is well
deserved and maintained, and to make
a difference with UK local authorities
and our partners as well as fulfilling
our role as international leaders.
Page 1 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Empowering Communities using Tools and technologies
The vision is for:
trong and prosperous local communities
Citizens able to participate in local decisions
l Well informed and able to shape their own lives
trong community leaders
l Skilled and informed
l Understand local citizens and their needs
l Able to inform, consult and engage
using a variety of channels
Officers with the
tools to do the job
l Communicating
effectively and
keeping citizens
l Able to engage
with Councillors
and Citizens alike
Ways in which we are putting
this into practice include:
Understanding where specific
products may help – from developing
an entry tool to assist Elected Members
start blogging to promoting VOICE
– an opportunity for Councils to get
communities online at low cost
on using technologies for participation,
and Bristol CC on e-petitioning
Understanding and contributing to the
wider international context – which has
attracted European funding for our work
Ultimately we need empower people
through promoting the right mix
of technology and participation
options. ICELE is positioned to give
local authorities advice and support
to help them engage with their
communities and reap the benefits
of embracing new ways of working.
Rita Wilson is Director ICE
l Working with regions and innovators
to create events that share learning – like
the North East Connects programme with
Elected Members, the Consultation Institute
l Using our website to act as
a central tool for dissemination – from case
studies to product information to guides
Page 2 of 2
Zurich Municipal
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Learning from the guinea pig
Kat Carrick, Head
of European Shared
Services for Zurich
Financial Services, gives insights into the
Shared Service Model,
what went well….and
not so well
On October 10 2007 I held a workshop
on our experiences in implementing
Shared Services at the Solace
Conference. We, at Zurich, have
been working on the Shared Service
Model since 2005 and, knowing
that this is an area of interest to
many Local Authorities, we felt that
we could share our experiences
(good and bad) via the workshop.
Our drivers for implementing a
Shared Service model were primarily
efficiency and cost focused, but we
also needed to ensure a minimum
level of quality and satisfaction with
the Services. Whilst it has been hard
work, and the implementation has
not always run smoothly, the changes
we’ve made are working, and the
results have positively impacted the
bottom line. The Solace conference
was a good opportunity for us to
discuss our experiences with those in
Local Authorities – either just starting
out…or someway down the journey.
It was no surprise that the issues and
concerns discussed were common
across both public and private sectors,
and I think it was generally felt that
we could learn a lot from each other.
Some of the key discussion at the
workshop centred around managing
people change, in particular
understanding the impact of Shared
Services on people in two major ways.
Firstly, the more familiar change
of previous employee becoming a
supplier. They feel a loss of ‘belonging’
and often feel removed from the
business they used to be part of…but
not yet part of another organisation.
It’s also a big shift from being a valued
member of one team, to being a service
provider to many customers, and one
which can be unsettling. This impact is
well known and understood within most
Shared Service implementations, and
thus focus is placed on managing it.
However, the second change is less
obvious, and can be potentially missed,
but is just as critical as the first one.
Page 1 of 2
Zurich Municipal
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Learning from the guinea pig
This is the change on the prior
“owners” or managers, who used to
control the services and people – they
now shift to becoming just another
customer (valued though they may
be) of the Shared Service function,
which is also unsettling and requires
management. Not recognising this
impact can undermine the success of
the Shared Service implementation.
Understanding and managing the
impact on all stakeholders is a critical
success factor, regardless of your
sector or industry…and is one of the
areas where we can find common
ground and share knowledge.
There were many other valuable
discussion points raised in the
workshop…and the time seemed
to fly – we could easily have
continued for another week.
We learned a significant amount from
our Shared Service experiences….
and the learning is ongoing….as is
our journey. There is no doubt that
the benefits are real, but there are
huge potential pitfalls and risks that
need to be managed along the way.
Sharing experiences and solutions
with others is an invaluable way of
ensuring that we fully understand
the options, impacts and various
solutions…. and it truly does help
in increasing the success of your
Shared Services implementation.
For more information, or if you
would like to exchange views on
Zurich’s Shared Service Model,
please contact Kat Carrick on:
Page 2 of 2
December 2007
Focus The enabled workforce:
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
happier, busier and greener
Marrying technology
and employer
behaviour could help
local government meet
the new demands of the
21st century, says BT’s
Neil Connor
As local government’s to-do list
continues to grow, one of the key
challenges for chief executives is to
continue to motivate, inspire and lead
their staff towards better performance.
This challenge, were it not great enough
already, is coupled with increasing
public and media scrutiny of local
government spending and delivery.
The solution, in part, to these twin
challenges may lie in the intelligent
application of technology designed
to enable employees to operate in
an environment more conducive
to efficiency. Several innovative
solutions have been developed to allow
flexible, mobile and wireless working
that help boost both productivity
and service levels in line with the
demands of the Gershon Review.
Westminster CC has been working
with BT to introduce flexible working
to maximise the value of its real estate
resources and help staff strike a
successful work/life balance.
This in turn is helping promote increased
productivity and better staff retention.
November 2006 saw the start the
Flexible Location Working (FLoW) project
being rolled out across the Council.
By the end of March 2008 it will have
enabled in the region of 680 staff to
work flexibly, including the ability to
work from home. More than 2,000 staff
are included in the phases to the end
of this year, facilitating the release of
five floors of Westminster City Hall.
The project is expected to deliver
£2.8m pa in net benefits by 2009/10.
Furthermore, Westminster CC staff are
already beginning to benefit from reduced
travel time, reduced travel costs, a better
work/life balance, more control over how
they work and increased job satisfaction.
In Wakefield too, the local council
sought to introduce flexible working as
part of its drive to improve productivity
and customer service. In conjunction
with BT it undertook a space occupancy
survey that revealed the council was
using less than 50% of its office space
at any one time. Even considering peak
time occupancy this means that at least
25% of office space could be released,
thereby providing a saving of 500 desks.
The result is not only a reduction in
overheads but also an environmental
saving of the concomitant energy the
extra 500 desks would have used.
Page 1 of 2
December 2007
Focus The enabled workforce:
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
happier, busier and greener
A new council building had been
designed in Wakefield to cater for
1,200 workstations, but with flexible
working policies in place it is now able
to cater for the needs of at least 1,500
and up to 1,800 council and partner
organisation employees. Looking at
more than just desk numbers, the
study enabled the council to define
four work styles – workplace, flexible,
mobile and home based – to best
match their employees’ needs.
This allowed the council to not only
increase efficiency but also begin the
task of educating people that work
should be seen as an activity, not a
place. The results for the council have
included cost savings, greater contact
with citizens and improved collaboration
with other agencies. The work life
balance of council staff has been
improved and the new working policies
have help to attract and retain talented
people and reduce absenteeism.
Enabling the workforce can also have
significant CSR and environmental
benefits thus helping local government
meet its strict emissions targets.
Again, the application of technology can
provide answers. A solution originally
introduced at BT in 1994 and where the
company now benefits from the learning
of 13 years of continuous improvement
is Field Force Automation (FFA).
FFA seeks to improve the work
allocation and scheduling of mobile and
out of office staff. Vehicles fitted with
GPS devices and employees provided
with handheld PDAs allow officebased staff to see each employee’s
job status and vehicle location on
a single web page. For local council
functions such as social services,
housing officers and environment
teams the applications are clear and
could result in significant savings.
The system is already in place in other
private sector businesses such as
Northumbrian Water and in their pilot
alone, productivity increased by 10%
through optimal job allocation and a
reduction in downtime through shorter
trips aided by satellite navigation. As well
as helping the organisation’s bottom line,
the solution has also helped reduce the
company’s carbon footprint: the mobile
workforce’s mileage has been reduced
by 20% since the introduction of FFA.
Providing a modern, flexible workforce
that can meet the key challenges that the
public sector will face in the next decade
must be at the core of local government’s
long-term strategy. As BT’s work with
councils is demonstrating, that provision
need not be viewed as a burden. It can add
purpose, efficiency and an organisationwide sense of corporate responsibility
– just as Sir Gershon has asked.
Page 2 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Council TV
Imagine being able to pay council
tax on the TV! Or communicating
with hard-to-reach stakeholders
via a TV channel on issues such as
recycling initiatives and claiming
housing benefits. Council TV
enables you to do just this.
The channel, run by SOLACE
partner WebsEdge, can be viewed
on the internet or by broadcasting
on televisions via a set top box.
The content can be combined with
social networking software, enabling
two-way community interaction.
Stephen Horn, CEO of WebsEdge
(provider of IPTV services) said: ‘Having
your own top quality, relevant television
content that can be put to a variety of
uses can help build the brand of the
council and help reach those residents
who lack council interaction. As the
producers of the Local Government
Channel, this is what we do best.’
‘Local authorities spend millions
on communicating with different
demographics,’ he said. ‘Internetbased TV allows you effectively and
interestingly to disseminate your
messages not only to the community,
but also to other public sector agencies.’
Interested? Contact Charlotte
Hammond at WebsEdge on
0207 612 1830 or email at
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Small technology, big improvements
Customer-driven public
services require a new
approach to technology,
says Paul Crook
support are required for the relatively
small percentage of individuals who
not only need this support most, but
are frequently getting comparatively
less support than individuals more
able to support themselves. We need
to identify these gaps and then focus
Today more than ever we need to
service investment and energy on
demonstrate to public service customers those with the greatest need.
that services are for their benefit,
focused on them, rather than focused
Previously, investment has been
on delivering what the Government
directed towards the efficiency of a
wants. Building on Progress gives us
particular delivery channel, such as
the vision of creating customer-centric, a call centre or the online presence.
self-sustaining services in which the
The next step is to move beyond this
end-user helps drive how the service
to concentrate on what the customer
is designed and delivered. It talks
experience is of a particular public
of services that are personalised,
service, regardless of channel. We
self-improving and responsive
must not only intimately understand
to the needs and preferences of
the service they are looking for, but
citizens. It is based on a principle of
actively involve them in the design.
fairness rather than just equality.
Technology has an opportunity to help
Fairness recognises that not all public
here. It can help individuals engage with,
sector customers are starting from
and give feedback to, the organisations
the same level. Differentiated levels of
they interact with. For example, many
individuals are already using technology
to design the experience they have with
an organisation – witness Amazon’s
delivery customer preferences or online
news outlets encouraging customers
to customize their home page.
The obvious difference is that
Government departments do not have
the luxury of a blank sheet of paper
as Amazon and Google did when they
started. The public sector has legacy
systems and processes, which you
cannot change overnight, or simply
replace. So rather than create customerdriven services through massive
investment in new IT systems, the
opportunity is to take a service-oriented
technology approach – which delivers
additional small, manageable ‘blocks’, or
service components to existing systems.
Page 1 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Small technology, big improvements
This ‘small technology’ approach
is more pragmatic than ‘big bang’
transformation and promotes
flexibility. This is the next step on the
transformational journey. Companies
such as Fujitsu have a role to play
here. We can make available our
understanding of researching how
people actually use technology, both
what is available now and what is on
the horizon. We can also bring our
private sector experience of creating
attractive small service components
based on customer insight used to
win in the highly competitive worlds
of retail and service industries.
This evolved service component
approach promises to shift valuable
and increasingly scarce investment
from large back office systems to
smaller front-line deliverables that
impact directly on the customer
experience of public services. This
is good for the citizen, good for the
taxpayer and good for our democracy.
Paul Crook, Fujitsu Services
l Email:
Page 2 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Microsoft Evangelist spreads the word
As operators find ways of lowering
the cost of mobile data, employers are
beginning to see that mobile-enabling
staff more widely is much more viable
than ever before. At the recent Microsoft
Worldwide Partner Conference in
Denver, Steve Hegenderfer (Windows
Mobile Technical Evangelist), revealed
that Microsoft expect the mobility
market to quadruple by 2009.
What was more intriguing, however,
was his prediction that most of this growth
will be driven by line of business (LOB)
applications. This is an interesting change
in emphasis from Microsoft but somewhat
understandable as, up until now, the
relatively high cost of per user mobile data
contracts has restricted the beneficiaries
to senior and middle management .
But it is not only the cost of data that has
been prohibitive in the past. Previously,
putting Windows-based LOB applications in
the hands of staff has also typically meant
heavy up-front investment through either
hardware terminals or full laptop setups.
This up-front investment may even have
been dwarfed by the ongoing support costs!
With application development on the
Windows Mobile platform, however, we
are now able to deliver mobile versions of
traditional LOB applications in a mobile
environment using standard Windows
Mobile-based handhelds and Smartphones.
Not only are the devices less expensive
to acquire but they are also much less
expensive to maintain, so the total cost
of ownership is significantly lower.
In a sense, though, it is only once
front-line staff become mobile that many
organisations will start to see really
significant gains. In business terms, if the
management tier is where the high margin
gains are to be made, then front-line staff is
where the high volume gains will be made.
From our experience in the public
sector, this analysis couldn’t be truer.
Organisations which have deployed our
TotalMobile suite of applications are
seeing genuine hard cost savings through
mobile-enabling front-line operatives.
Typically, it is front-line staff who are
dragged back to the office by paperbased processes, Our ongoing research
suggests that basic productivity gains
from TotalMobile applications are seeing
operatives complete two extra jobs per
day, and the ability to schedule jobs and
communicate schedule changes to field
staff more efficiently is saving customers
£10K per annum in fuel costs alone, not
to mention further savings in vehicle
maintenance and other associated costs.
From the point of view of Consilium
Technologies, this is, of course, all
positive news. We have a long-standing
presence and substantial expertise in
Windows Mobile development through
our well-established TotalMobile suite of
applications. And the tight integration
between the TotalMobile suite and our
TotalView management suite means
we are almost uniquely positioned to
help public sector organisations not
only benefit from the hard cost and
softer benefits of mobile enablement
but also put them in a position where
these benefits can be easily measured.
Garth Morton is Business
Development Manager for TotalMobile
at Consilium Technologies
Limehouse Software
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Do you need another life?
Should your next
council meeting be in
a Second Life council
chamber? Colin
Mackenzie explores
some options
The last few years have seen a
significant rise in the adoption of webbased Network Virtual Environments
(NVEs) like the Second Life virtual
world. These virtual worlds provide
a 3D environment where residents,
represented as human-like avatars, can
explore and interact with other residents.
An increasing number of organisations
have a presence in Second Life. IBM
has created its own islands where it can
communicate to its employees and to its
customers. Some clothing retailers now
sell their goods from virtual shops using
the local currency, the Linden Dollar.
Interactions can include private
chats that can be overheard by
other residents near you, instant
messaging and even voice. Given
that NVEs offer the ability for webusers to communicate in a graphically
rich environment with 3D models of
imaginary or real-world structures,
even government organisations are
considering adopting this technology.
Which brings me to my question,
Should your next public meeting be
in a Second Life council chamber?
But before you move your
consultation into a Second Life it is
worth considering the following:
People are not who they seem
to be. If you are interested in profiling
responses by age, gender or ethnic
origin, don’t trust in appearances.
The 18 year-old Californian skater
girl who gives you feedback may
be a 55-year-old accountant from
Huddersfield, or even vice versa.
Don’t expect to control the
conversation. Free speech reigns
and the avatar you meet may say
anything to you or about you. If you are
concerned about the tone/language of
a conversation that can be overhead
this may not be for you. There is a
policing mechanism where discretions
are totalled-up and action taken but this
does not stop the initial indiscretion.
It may also be difficult to stick to any
sort of agenda at a public meeting.
You need to be there. As interactions
are in real-time, to interact properly
you need to be in the world when
your users are. As many organisations
block Second Life this means that both
you and the people you are trying to
reach can only get online at home.
Page 1 of 2
Limehouse Software
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Do you need another life?
User expectations. To encourage
people to interact with you, you will
need to create and maintain a 3D virtual
presence. Therefore, in local government
terms, you may need to build the virtual
housing estate that you want to discuss.
Security. Conversations are not
secure in this environment and it
is difficult to maintain any sort of
audit trail of all conversations based
around a particular subject.
Copyright, ownership and your identity.
While it is not allowed to copy objects
marked as copyright there are programs
(e.g. CopyBot) which can export then
re-import objects. This means that
your virtual housing estate could be
copied, modified then re-imported to a
different location with new owners who
may then misrepresent your views.
These issues are not bugs or
limitations of NVEs but are part of
their nature – innovative and exciting
yes but also chaotic, unrestricted
and, by definition, not real.
There will be no stopping the increased
virtualisation of the web. Users will
demand ever more interactive and
interesting ways to access your
information and interact with you.
This is clearly demonstrated by the
rise of web-based mapping. The GIS
system that you thought was leadingedge a few years ago is now compared
by your citizens with applications like
Google maps (complete with route
finder and multimedia information
points) and Microsoft Virtual Earth.
Many industry analysts have predicted
that government organisations
will slowly start to investigate and
experiment with public, on-line
NVEs during the next five years
but that ultimately other solutions
will be sought and adopted.
It is clear that more controlled
virtual experiences will be created
for adoption within an organisation
or between an organisation and its
stakeholders. These corporate NVEs
will provide the advantages of the
virtual world but with the required level
of security, auditability and control.
Until then, perhaps you should
go home, swap your body for your
chosen avatar and have fun.
Find out more at: http://www. Colin Mackenzie
is CIO Limehouse Software
If you are using or thinking
about using Second Life let us
know and we can feature it in a
future issue of SOLACE Focus
Page 2 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Mergers and acquisitions?
The current round of local
government re-organisation
presents councils with significant
opportunities – and challenges.
On the basis of Deloitte’s work
with clients in the private sector,
the following are consistent themes
that may support approaches to LGR:
Forty six councils are likely to be reduced
to 11 with projected savings of £150m.
There are, inevitably, parallels with the
re-organisations of the mid 1990s.
Each instance, of re-organisation is
driven by unique local circumstances but
all will involve the need to realign people,
process and technology, with the revised
responsibilities and emerging business
needs of the new authority. While the
scale of is great, there is some comfort
from similarities with organisational
change elsewhere. For example,
commercial mergers and acquisitions
involve defining new cultures, combining
organisations, delivering new integrated
services and rationalising infrastructure.
Key lessons from the private sector
may have strong relevance to the
establishment of unitary councils.
Strategic priorities drive
the re-organisation
Start with an issue-free day 1
clear communication of the new
strategic priorities ensure that
all activities can be focussed on
delivering the wider, common goals;
day-1 planning ensures organisational
momentum, business continuity and
gives the public confidence in the
council’s ability to execute the transition;
Some things are non-negotiable
Take advantage of opportunities
defining non-negotiables provides
boundaries for the re-organisation
effort and eliminates uncertainty and
lengthy decision-making., examples
might include service levels being
no worse than those achieved by
the predecessor organisation;
re-organisations offer an unparalleled
opportunity to create a platform
for transformation that would
otherwise be much harder to
instigate; for example consolidating
disparate back-office functions into
an enterprise-wide solution.
decision making authority as early as
possible. Factions with ‘rogue’ decisions
being made that are not aligned with
the overall strategic plan can distract
energy from the core priorities;
Decide who decides
it is important to establish and clearly
communicate roles, responsibilities,
decision-making procedures and
Page 1 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Mergers and acquisitions?
Re-organisation is of course not an
end in itself but a means to achieve
improved services, greater efficiency
and better accountability. Whether or
not these desired outcomes are achieved
will depend as much on how well the
re-organisation is implemented as it does
on the exact structures that are chosen.
To ensure success, chief officers will:
be sensitive to the distinction between
transition and transformation; they
will seek only to maintain service
standards by vesting day, and use
re-organisation as a catalyst for
radical improvements in later years;
ensure a strong performance
management culture is in place
early; collecting management
information ensures good evidence
is accumulated from well before the
start of the transition that can be
used to demonstrate improvements;
establish a strong programme
management office to facilitate
the coordination of change across
the organisation, culture, people,
process and technology.
Above all, the time available is short and
the scale of the task is considerable.
In the words of a director from a global
health care business that had executed
many re-organisations: ‘Speed is
essential, and speed trumps perfection.’
Page 2 of 2
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Community Cohesion
What is your view of
community cohesion?
The IDeA wants to
know, says Rose Doran
The summer of 2001 saw explosive
events in Bradford, Burnley and Oldham
as people from different communities
took to the streets to vent their fear and
fury against each other. The riots were
shortly followed by the 11 September
attacks in America and with them a
rising terror threat. In 2004 the British
National Party won four seats on
Bradford council. Then came the
7 July bombings in London in 2005.
Ted Cantle’s report for the Government
into the 2001 riots found that ‘parallel
lives’ were being led by different
sectors of the communities in those
towns. Housing and schooling
had become segregated along
racial lines with members of one
community having little chance to
engage with those from another.
The terror attacks added a new
dimension to the debate around
community cohesion. The Cantle report
called for a national debate and in 2006
– in the wake of the London bombings
– the Commission on Integration and
Cohesion was set up to examine the
way forward, under Darra Singh.
Its final report, Our Shared Future,
paints a visionary picture of what
our society could, and should, look
like, and broadens the debate to
include all aspects of cohesion and
integration in all areas of the country.
The IDeA is taking this debate forward
with a series of events in partnership with
local authorities to explore these issues.
What does a cohesive community look
and feel like, and how do you achieve it?
Six years since the riots, the landscape
is visibly changing. Now all three of
those northern towns have set up
schemes, which range from building
links between schools to festivals
celebrating diversity – all aimed at
bringing communities together.
In Bradford the council has
focused on four themes: equality
of opportunity, participation and
involvement, community relations
and community safety. All activity has
been progressed with consultation
from local people. The emphasis is on
economic regeneration and improved
employment opportunities, education,
skills and training and young people.
Strong political leadership is vital.
Page 1 of 3
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Community Cohesion
Bradford deputy CEX Jo Miller
talks about the council approaching
community cohesion and integration
and equality as a whole community
issue. Cohesion, she says, is an issue
that goes beyond race and faith,
and is as much about narrowing
the gap between communities as
developing understanding across
communities, within neighbourhoods
and across generations.
Bradford’s growing youth population
has seen the council adopt an
alternative community leadership
model that seeks to celebrate the
whole of the district’s people, and
identifies that a young, diverse and
growing population is the district’s
strength in a modern global economy.
Miller argues that a whole
community approach to cohesion
is the only approach that will work
in Bradford. Bradford’s story is
evidence-based, it can and should
help inform national thinking.
more rural areas. A final event will bring
the findings together next summer.
One of the main findings of Darra
Singh’s Commission was that there can
not be a single approach to cohesion as
different types of area have different
needs. A strong theme in the report
is that place matters and that all
localities have unique qualities.
The Commission’s report identifies
nine area types, five of which it found
to be at greater risk of problems with
community cohesion. We have taken
these typologies at the IDeA as the
starting point for a national debate.
We have organised three events to
discuss policy and ideas based on
area type rather than geography.
The aim of the events is to bring
senior policy officers and members
together to debate the issues and
share best practice, and to come
up with a definition of community
cohesion that fits the modern picture.
The first event is for councils in urban
and more ethnically and religiously
diverse areas, the second event will look
at issues facing more affluent areas and
market towns, and a third will look at
We need to get a handle on what
community cohesion means now.
The term was coined after the 2001
riots and has stuck, but today’s
interpretation of it should not be based
on the findings of the Cantle review.
In 2001, the review team made it clear
that it was looking at community
relations within a context of those
particular communities. Darra Singh
Commission’s emphasis on local
Page 2 of 3
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Community Cohesion
responses recognises there is not
one overarching analysis that can
be imposed on all communities
because the individual local
circumstances are different.
Our Shared Future looked at the causes
of tensions and found a complex
set of drivers, with some things
having more influence. For example
deprivation and diversity could both
have a negative impact on cohesion,
but not in all circumstances, again
highlighting the need for local solutions.
But this does not mean that there
are not areas where we can share
experiences and learn from one
another. We’re using the area types
as a starting point for thinking
about how we might bring local
authorities together, and looking at
particular key topics like housing.
Some people might want to come
to all of the events because no local
authority is going to fit neatly into any
one category, for example Bradford has
urban and rural areas. The first event
is being held in Bradford because it’s
particularly pertinent to them to say
where were we in 2001 and how has our
understanding progressed since then.
You can only do this effectively if you
understand that everyone in your
community is an individual with different
requirements and expectations and that
it is the Council’s job to lead, represent
and provide effective services to all local
people and to foster a sense of pride and
belonging. You have to get equalities
right to get community cohesion right.
In the last five years we have
developed an understanding of the
need to understand. What is driving
tensions? Ultimately we want to bring
people together in an environment
where they can have these complex
discussions, and understand how
they can support members, how
they might want to engage with new
arrivals and existing communities.
It’s absolutely not just about race
but also gender, age and so on.
Rose Doran is community cohesion
programme manager at the IDeA
Page 3 of 3
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Have your say
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Please send your stories and ideas to:
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SOLACE Focus is published by the
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Email: andrew.coleman@
December 2007
The electronic newsletter
from the Society of Local
Authority Chief Executives
and Senior Managers
Finding out more
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