It was interesting to hear that Steve Webb, the Pensions minister, recently recommended that adults should take the opportunity, mid-career, of a gap year (Here) . For since March this year I have been doing exactly that. The last four months have been a fantastic lesson in the need, sometimes, to stand back and reflect on life. I had over six years as Chief Executive of St Albans Council, working with politicians to do the best for the area in a period of budget contraction. I was then at the LGA for 15 months leading a team of great people and gaining a very wide range of experiences at the centre of the local government sector.
However it’s not all been reflection. I have also been asked to help with some fascinating consultancy work, including advising on demand management, local government futures, major planning applications, and urban growth strategy. Side-by side with this I have been doing some closely related writing, with links to the latest pieces set out in the Resources section, and been asked to contribute as an associate to the Institute of Local Government (INLOGOV) at Birmingham University, which is a real privilege.
From all these experiences I have learned three important things:
Steve Webb’s point is a good one, with greater longevity there is a real need to continually refresh what we do. Will I return to a local government post, or will I take a different route? Obviously I cannot yet say, but what I do know is that over the next few months I will set a course which will ensure new experiences and challenges. In doing so I will carefully choose work and other opportunities which will make sure that I play to my strengths and enjoy the coming years as much as I have the last few weeks.