Solace Blog

As well as those used in the weekly Solace News email for members, articles and blogs written or contributed to by Solace staff and Board members for external publications including the Guardian, Local Government Chronicle and Municipal Journal are republished for browsing on this page. 

A number of these can be accessed through the Solace Guardian Public Leaders Network Partner Zone.

Reinvigorating our town centres – 0

By Martina Cicakova, Policy Officer, Solace

I recently came across a thought-inspiring podcast series Local Gov Life, piloted earlier this year by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). The series provides a mix of stories, insights and advice from local government leaders in the United States (U.S.) and Canada. In particular, Episode 3 on Reinvigorating Downtown caught my attention. It offers international perspectives on how local development and engagement initiatives can help create a greater sense of community amongst citizens and boost their local economies. Specifically, the podcast takes an in-depth look at the town centre initiatives of three different communities in the U.S. and Canada and it discusses the strategies their local government leaders are using to reinvigorate their town centres.

Solace is always keen to promote learning from international examples and share best practice from other countries and the podcast will hopefully provide you with inspiration to pursue innovative ideas to transform your own local areas and bring your town centres to life. 

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Lessons from the Troubled Families Evaluation – 0

By Jason Lowther, Head of Corporate Strategy, Birmingham City Council and Solace Deputy Spokesperson on Evidence Based Policy

In barely 18 months the Troubled Families Programme (TFP) has gone from a Ministerial panacea to media allegations of wasting £1 billion.  The main lesson of this drama is that to understand whether (and, critically, where and how) a policy is working we need to get much better at local evaluation.

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New Year message from the Solace Chair – 0

By Gavin Jones, Solace Chair and Chief Executive of Essex County Council

Happy New Year colleagues!

It has been said that those who begin with certainties, will end in doubts*. Given the events of 2016, doubt seems an appropriate response as we think about what 2017 might have in store. But whilst much is unknown, there are some issues that seem certain to demand our urgent attention this year – right at the top of the list must be securing a long term solution to the care needs of our ageing population – we should make 2017 the year in which we finally identify a workable approach to what is shaping up to be the defining problem of our times. But no solution is likely to be sustainable unless we also address the country’s productivity and growth challenges as our exit from the EU begins to pick up pace. And whilst these challenges – and the many others we face - should not be underestimated, we should also begin 2017 in a spirit of optimism and with the confidence that local government has much to offer by way of solutions.

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Christmas Message from Jo Miller, Solace President – 0

By Jo Miller, Solace President and Chief Executive of Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you all Solace colleagues.

It's been a bit of a whirlwind since you elected me as your president two months ago and I hope you can see that I've been standing up for public service and all that we do, promoting the importance of good leadership and working with our next generation to make sure the tradition of excellent public service continues.

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Cyber resilience is not just for ICT teams – 0

By Stephen Baker, Chief Executive at Suffolk Coastal and Waveney Councils and Solace Spokesperson on Civil Resilience and Community Safety

OK colleagues, I need a favour, but more of that later…

I recently attended the LG Cyber Summit, an event jointly arranged by Central and Local Government, to consider the issue of cyber security from a Local Government perspective.  This was an important event as it not only heralded another step forward in the way that sectors and agencies are working together on this issue, but it also highlighted the threats that exist within the digital /cyber world, and how these need to be addressed. 

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Engaging Communities through Digital Transformation – 0

By Nick Williams, ‎Managing Director, Consumer Digital, Lloyds Banking Group

Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) is a UK-focused retail and commercial bank made up of four iconic relationship brands – Lloyds Bank, Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Scottish Widows. We have over 20 million customers and 75,000 colleagues.  12 million of our customers bank with us online, and 7 million bank with us on mobile; with our mobile channel seeing an astonishing 400% growth in 5 years. Today the proportion of customer needs met digitally by the Bank is over 60%, as we provide our customers with the opportunity to bank with us where they want to, when they want to and how they want to.

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Delivering the Northern Powerhouse: Economic Regeneration and Skills – 0

By Tom Stannard, Director of Economy and Skills, Oldham Council, and Solace Deputy Spokesperson on Economic Prosperity and Housing

Earlier this year I spoke at an event at Salford University on education and skills in the northern powerhouse, alongside Salford City College, New Economy, and our Chamber of Commerce in Greater Manchester.  There was a lot of interest in how we are aiming to “get on with the job” in Oldham on skills and employment and devolution, and some useful lessons to share across Solace.  On the back of this, a Prospects fringe event with myself and Jo Miller at our Summit in Gateshead this year looked at similar issues.

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Countdown on to English water market opening – 0

By Jo Dow, Chief Executive, Business Stream

Last month marked a major milestone in the run-up to the English water market opening. With just six months to go until every organisation and business in England is able to switch its water supplier, the ‘shadow market’ is now in operation. The advent of competition south of the border represents arguably the biggest practical and cultural shift in the sector in modern times, akin to the changes that took place with energy deregulation in the 1990s.

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Ignite: Developing leadership fit for the future – 0

By Deborah Cadman, Chief Executive of Suffolk County Council and Solace Spokesperson on Leadership and Learning

Solace has done some fantastic work in ensuring that leadership potential is fostered and developed throughout our sector, developing a pipeline of Chief Executives for the future. However, in the rapidly changing landscape of local public service today, it’s vital that existing Chief Executives are equipped with the tools required for the realities of the job, and feel ready to face whatever new challenges the future holds. Even for those who feel at the top of their game, there is always room for challenge and for learning, particularly amongst peers.

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Engaging people in digital transformation: Lessons from the smart meter rollout – 0

By Claire Maugham, Director of Policy & Communications, Smart Energy GB

In November, Smart Energy GB joined the Greater London Authority and the city’s Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal, to represent the capital at the World Smart City Congress in Barcelona.

The focus of the congress, which attracted over 30,000 international delegates and representatives from 600 cities, was ‘cities for citizens’.

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