It has taken me over a week to decide what I thought about the LGA conference. My view of the opportunities and challenges of the emerging framework around the coalition Government is a relatively positive one.
At the conference itself there was marked polarisation of delegates on a glum to optimistic axis, and some puzzlement at some of the inconsistencies that became apparent in the presentations. There was also a further paradox in the expected scale of community and service engagement. On the one hand we are encouraged to think of responses driven by and customised to the requirements of neighbourhoods of (say) around 1000, and on the other people are talking about some form of place based budgeting which seeks to deliver results on a large scale of (say) 500,000.
There were some who were clearly waiting for guidance and retreating into statutory silos. Whilst understandable in some ways this is a strategy from the past and a recipe for disaster. So what should we be doing? Here are five suggestions:
This is a critical moment of truth for Local Government. It is imperative to take the government at its word. That means not trying to work out what the tune is so we can dance to it, but as always, and within admittedly tight budgetary constraints, to do the right thing for the places we serve.