Saturday 5 July 2008

Sparkles arrives and Hazel reminisces

Welcome to Sparkles. 9 weeks old . A neat little bundle of fun .She is Jack Russell and arrived in Charlbury this morning . A cause of great comment as I take her with me shopping. There is certainly something about a puppy to cause conversation .

It is good to be back in my village after a couple of weeks away . The roses have had their best but the rambler s linger on and my vine went berserk so up ladders pruning . Bournemouth turned out to be useful . The Local Government Association conference . I arrived in time for the speech by David Cameron , my MP . It was one of those unscripted things he has decided he does so well . And indeed he does. But what impressed was the central role he clearly expects from the third sector. He talks of " triple devolution " ; outdoing David Miliband who was only on double devolution ( I text Ed , his brother to warn him ) . he says just as he wants power devolved to citizens from the State and to local government from central , he expects to see local government devolving power to the Third Sector . He argues the sector is often closer to people than councils and that in tackling the problems of what he describes as " breakdown Britain we need the third sector. It is clearly not a throw away line.the usual couple of paras on the saintly voluntary sector. And think it is great he makes this point to a hall full of Councillors. interestingly , in comparison with Hazel he talks much more on the sector than she does . And yet Hazel is a committed supporter of the role of the Sector.

Hazel speaks later . She is great , so dynamic and optimistic.I'm sitting near the front which may have been a mistake . Hazel gets onto the subject of local government in the 80s. She warns of no return to the days of Lambeth and Liverpool !! The people on the platform , who have spotted me ( former Lambeth Councillor of note and distinction) find this highly amusing.Sir Jeremy Beecham , that doyen of the councils , suggests afterwards I should have stood up and taken a bow. i gently remonstrate with Hazel afterwards . And we talk about the days of Council's with foreign policies . We were particularly keen on Nicaragua and she said Salford was too; she was a councillor there at the time . But I trumped her because I went on an official visit on behalf of the residents of Lambeth . The concerns of the peoples of Nicaragua and Lambeth were clearly greatly linked and it was good to visit ot bring them greetings of solidarity from my Clapham electors .The beach on the beautiful Corn Island , just off the Cari been coast of Nicaragua was a particularly special place for solidarity.

But good news on the acevo front comes via my Blackberry . Jack Straw has agreed to our proposal to set up an acevo-MoJ taskforce to look at how to increase the role of the third sector in providing prison and probation services. Great !I get a breaking news email out to all my members. And talk to "Third Sector" . I also tell them that FBE is looking at how we can increase the amount of investments we make in this area . It is very low at present so we may provide a new product , up to 10m to support more contracting in offender management . FBE will join the taskforce. I now need to select the acevo members to sit on the task force. That will be fun ( or not , as who sits on what generally excites ! )

Hazel holds a reception later for the Beacon Award winners ( Sir Jeremy whispers in my ear during the speeches " the beacon flames are somewhat low at the moment " ) . The DCLG are hosting . You can tell times are bad . the " champagne" appears to be from the same source that Prince Charles puts into the tank of his Aston Martin . I leave mine to one side , happy on this occasion to coincide my diabetic need to cut alcohol consumption with my desire to avoid being poisoned .I make this point to the Permanent Secretary of DCLG , the splendid Peter Housden who I meet chatting to the CEO of Nottingham Council , the egregious Jane Todd.

i chat to David Rossington of DCLG who is in charge of writing of the White Paper on "Empowering Communities ". This is being launched on Wednesday at the Camberwell Settlement ( one of our members ) Bad timing as I cancel my dentist appointment . I was having a crown ( fitting ) and now no crown , just empowered communities.

But the most amusing interlude in Bournemouth is my chat with Eric Pickles MP ; the Tory Local Government spokesperson . I have known Eric for over 20 years . When I worked at the Association of Metropolitan Authorities he was Leader of Bradford and was on the employers side for pay negotiations . I have always greatly liked Eric . A great sense of humour and pricker of pomposity. he readily accepts my invitation to do a lunch with my acevo members.i introduce him to Keith Sonnett from Unison .. he also wants to meet up with Eric . Now that is a sign of the times.

But now it is back to Sparkles .

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very readable article with many very interesting facets. I was amused that Prince Charles can demonstrate his green credentials by outting champagne in the tank of his aston martin. It might be greener to stop driving it at all.