A very quiet week on the council front. Partly, as I touched on earlier this week, because the council does reduce its activity during party conference season. And partly because I’ve been working out of London this week in two different authorities.
I try and have a portfolio career (though I won’t deny the recession has had its impact on the private work I do) and part of that is the occasional bit of work for the Improvement and Development Agency. No two places are alike, and while you can’t draw direct parallels between local authorities it is always fascinating, and a real privilege, to see how things work elsewhere. Rather guiltily I think I’ve always come away with rather more than I’ve given!
One thing I can pretend I did as a cabinet member was pop along to the fourth plinth last weekend to see Lorinda Freint, the Clapham Junction Town Centre Manager, do her stint as art.
She used the hour to promote the SW11 Literary Festival – anyone could text in a message, some of which were displayed on a whiteboard for all to see. Everyone got a text back about the festival – which still has a little while to run. The picture shows her holding up a message detailing what was originally intended for the fourth plinth.
And, of course, Battersea Poems continues throughout October, so you have plenty of time to get your poems in for that.
I have developed a pattern of a post every day. This is a non-post to apologise for no blog post. I’m away, trying to serve the greater good.
The particular way I’m serving the greater good is by working at a training session with potential Community Safety peer reviewers. Now I could use this non-post to discuss the value of peer review in local government (and argue against my party’s policy) but instead I’m going to complain, more specifically I’m going whine about hotels.
Back in March I whinged about the standards by which hotels judged their guests, and by guests I mean hanger-thieving-porn-addicted temporary residents.
This morning I am, again, pleased to be one of the potential hanger-thieving fraternity. Ironically I’ve spent the night in what is, essentially, a police training facility. But I’ve spent it in a police training facility from which, by clever design, hangers not only have no value when stolen, but are also needlessly difficult to use when you are just a guest.
While I’ve been here I’ve also glimpsed the endless training and exercises the police undertake with partners from across the public sector.
So, on behalf of the public, I want to say thank-you to the Police, the Army, the Ambulance Service, health workers and all the others who are here working and training to make us all safer.
And, on behalf of the public, I want to say sorry that we don’t trust you not to steal our hangers.
It was with some nervousness I went along to The Goat last night for the Tweet-up. I left having had a glass or two of wine too many but having spent an excellent evening in a fine put with good company.
Having never been to one (which really put me at a disadvantage for organising one) I wasn’t sure what to expect – or even how many people. But in the end there was a good crowd that mixed well.
Ingrid Koehler, who works at the Improvement and Development Agency blogged about it this morning, referring to my little spat over surgeries. (That post was followed by a Lambeth Labour councillor using it as an excuse for a bit of political knocking. Rather disappointingly I responded in kind rather than rising above it.) I hadn’t particularly thought about it as any type of engagement – although I did end up talking a bit about the council with some of the people there – it was really prompted to have an excuse for a beer and by a bit of jealousy of SW15.
Obviously I’ll take any credit going. But I think the key thing was that everyone enjoyed themselves – judging by the Tweets afterwards it seems that everyone did. I certainly hope there will be more to come. But for the time-being I would like to use this post to say thank-you to Bell Pottinger for their sponsorship, but most of all to the people who came for making it such a great night.