I spent most of this week attending the SOLACE Conference in Brighton. Anyone interested in what happened there can view highlights elsewhere on this website. However highlights are only part of the story. What they cannot convey is the mood of delegates and some underlying themes.
I found the mood to be one of quiet determination. Yes, times are tough and are going to get tougher, but local government’s senior management are up to the challenge and quietly getting on with it. They are not distracted by seemingly random statements coming from Westminster, nor by endless attacks on pay and pensions. Most see local government as the key agency to help communities in recessionary times, and most feel equipped for the task.
The one underlying moan that I frequently heard was the political paralysis that the talk of a general election is causing in many places. Accepting that real innovation and transformational change are prerequisites for tackling the lack of resources in the public sector, many colleagues are worried that politicians will not act until the election is out of the way. Some fear that this will be too late.
Whilst it is quite understandable political behaviour it is slowing down the whole system. Asked what they wanted for Christmas I suspect a lot of Chief Executives would say that they would like to see a general election behind them. Somehow I suspect this is just wishful thinking.
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