Association for Public Service Excellence
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Blog from Paul O'Brien

December 10, 2014
Tough times, tough decisions

Over the past few months, APSE and our academic partners have been looking at what the future role of elected members will be between now and 2020 - and sadly the forecast is for stormy waters. 

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Tags: APSE, elected members, Local democracy, ensuring council, austerity
December 1, 2014
Discussing devolution at De Montfort

The 10th anniversary of De Montfort University’s Local Governance Research Unit brought together a top class line up of speakers to discuss the future of local government and the impact that devolution could have on that.

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Tags: Bob Neill, merrick cockell, graham allan, Philip Blond, devolution
November 28, 2014
APSE Energy Scottish launch

Following on from the launch of APSE Energy at Westminster in June, it was the Scottish launch event in Edinburgh today.

The theme was about distributed energy where local authorities can act as suppliers within local areas along with partners.  

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Tags: renewable energy, Climate change, energy efficiency, distributed energy
November 23, 2014
London calling

A Saturday shift in the impressive surroundings of the Guildhall in London for the London council’s annual conference today.  

As well as devolution and local government finance, housing was also a dominant issue amongst discussions at what turned out to be a really useful and lively conference.

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Tags: Jules Pipe, local government finance, devolution, london councils, Darra Singh
November 14, 2014
The future role of elected members in Scotland

Headed North today to speak at an APSE fringe meeting at the SNP Party Conference in Perth, on the future role of elected members in Scotland. This was also an opportunity to launch our research of the same name.

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Tags: elected members
October 16, 2014
Waste not, want not

Waste not, want not

Whilst much of the focus of the graph of doom theorists has been on adult social care and children’s services, local authorities haven’t forgotten that they also continue to have statutory responsibilities for collecting waste and that this waste needs to be disposed of in a cost effective and environmentally friendly way.

Huge efforts are being made to eradicate waste in the first instance by encouraging a reduction in unnecessary waste and the reuse, recycling and recovery of any materials of value that can be derived from the waste stream, prior to going to landfill. With this in mind authorities are looking to develop integrated strategies that deal with all stages of the waste hierarchy.

I recently had an opportunity to examine Barcelona City Council’s approach to waste management and found an impressive approach that also links closely to wider ambitions around renewable energy.


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Tags: waste management, Barcelona, Graph of doom, renewable energy, energy from waste, wind, biomass, geothermal, electric fleet, Solar, refuse collection, Street Cleansing, streetscene
August 22, 2014
Time for political boldness

Recent signs have been good that a new spirit of municipal entrepreneurship is starting to emerge amongst political leaders in local government.


Significant debate is taking place about devolution and the wider role local government should play in society. Whilst discussions centre around freedoms, funding and powers, it is important to also ask for what purpose? And what can councils actually deliver?

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Tags: Public policy, leadership, Political vision, transformation, parks, devolution, municipal entrepreneurship
July 4, 2014
Reclaiming local democracy

Taking a long hard look at what 'democracy', 'citizenship' and 'ethics' really mean in local government in the second decade of the 21st Century may seem like a luxury when councils are struggling to empty the bins, house the homeless, care for elderly residents and meet a million other demands with ever fewer resources. But reclaiming the vital connection between the mightiest of principles upon which local government was founded and day to day actions that matter to local people is the best way for local authorities to take control in these difficult times.

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Tags: De Montfort, Local democracy, ensuring council, elected members, in-house services
May 1, 2014
Healthy prevention beats expensive cure

Last week's BMJ article, which accused local authorities of 'raiding' public health budgets to prop up other services, shows a surprising lack of insight into the reasons why councils actually took on the public health role in the first place. It also fails to grasp well-evidenced connections between health and wider social factors that are dependent upon public services such as housing, sport and leisure, greenspace or school meals.

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March 28, 2014
Time to sharpen the thinking not the pencil

With the Public Accounts Committee warning central government to sharpen up on procurement and transparency, high profile failures at Serco hitting the headlines and authorities including Liverpool reviewing their private sector partnerships, public service outsourcing seems to have reached a crossroads.

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Tags: Outsourcing, procurement, Local government, partnerships, efficiency, ensuring council

Promoting excellence in public services

APSE (Association for Public Service Excellence) is a not for profit unincorporated association working with over 300 councils throughout the UK. Promoting excellence in public services, APSE is the foremost specialist in local authority frontline services, hosting a network for frontline service providers in areas such as waste and refuse collection, parks and environmental services, cemeteries and crematorium, environmental health, leisure, school meals, cleaning, housing and building maintenance.






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