A lively APSE meeting in Edinburgh yesterday with debates taking place on governance, environmental challenges, commercialisation and demand management. With over 60 delegates present including Chief Executives, Directors, Leaders and portfolio holders a healthy discussion flowed across all of the topics.
The first forum was on governance under austerity and was led by Cllr Sonja Crisp of York City Council and Professor Steve Griggs of De Montfort University. It focused primarily on APSE's recent research publication 'Two tribes' - which explores the split between Executive and non-Executive elected members created by modernised governance structures. Officer / member relationships were also examined, with a conclusion that whilst austerity increases tension its important to continue to remember to work together.
APSE's Louise McMillan and North Lanarkshires Executive Director of Environmental Services, Paul Jukes, then went on to look at the future challenges for Environmental Services. Financial austerity overshadows most decisions but its important not to focus on climate change and sustainability also. Debate focused on establishing the correct organisational culture and form for future years.
The most controversial topic of the day was probably the discussion around commercialisation led by John Harrison and Simon Machin of Peterborough Council. Both set out to challenge conventional thinking on service delivery and income generation. For some their approach goes too far but for many it opened their eyes to some existing boundaries being more mythical than actual. Nevertheless there remains concerns around governance and risk that need to be considered carefully.
APSE's Andy Mudd delivered the final session of the day looking at demand management issues and reconfiguring spproaches to service delivery.