Tuesday, 27 April 2010

AGM and Socitm spring event

Last week I had such a bad cold that for the first time I can remember I had to cancel meetings on the Monday and work from home. Not a great start to a week that was already over full!

With the exception of the conference and the AGM most of the week was full of internal meetings that either I can't tell you about or you wouldn't be interested in - probably both. However, our spring conference in Birmingham - which apparently is now called our National Conference as opposed to our Annual Conference (which is also national).......don't worry, it's changing! - was an excellent day. Opened by our outgoing  President, Steve Palmer, we then had an introduction to the day from Martin Ferguson, Head of Policy at Socitm which really set the scene very well. Michael Frater (ex CEO of Surrey CC) pulled no punches and went down exceptionally well with the delegates. We had a great presentation by Simon Norbury (@redpepper52 ) who stepped in at the last minute and saved the day when Prof Colin Talbot was unavoidably prevented from speaking.  A number of the presentations from the plenary sessions and the workshops can be found HERE.

I have to say that I was 'on edge' during the morning sessions because I knew there was the AGM at lunchtime. In the event I had no need to be as the members were supportive as ever, although quite rightly some serious questions were asked.

Apart from 3 new and extremely capable vice presidents: Kay Brown, Glyn Evans and Steve Halliday we were voting on two crucial issues for our Socitm vision and development plans.

The first was the introduction of new accredited professional membership options which will be optional and run in parallel with our current membership route.
If anyone would like further details about this new structure please contact ellen.jessett@socitm.net

The second significant vote, which was related to our agreeing new articles of association, was the broadening of the criteria by which a member is elegible to become a vice president, and therefore president of the society. Following the vote any senior member from the broad public sector (ie not just local government) and the third sector is eligable to be considered for the highest elected offices within Socitm. These decisions are entirely in line with the vision agreed by members in 2008 which focussed upon professionalism, democracy and inclusion. Thanks to the great new team of professional senior staff we are making real progress in embedding the vision and seeing it shape the Society.

And.....part way through the buiness our then President, Steve Palmer, who has presided over, and paved the way for  these significant changes handed the mantle (well a ridiculously heavy chain) over to our new President Jos Creese. Jos, I know, also has some great ideas about where the Society is heading.

All in all, a great event and a very positive AGM. Thank you to all our staff and members who continue to support Socitm and just make it all happen.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Wed 21 April

Night before the Socitm national conference - our local guide ,Karl, took us out to a restaurant - what a great night :-)

-- Post From My iPhone

Monday, 19 April 2010

Run up to our AGM

I have been back at work a week and it has been manic. It is all systems go for our National Conference on Thursday 22nd at the Hilton Metropole Birmingham NEC at which we also have our AGM. As in the past couple of years we have some significant areas for voting at the AGM, not least of all new articles of association and changes to the criteria for becoming a vice president (and therefor President). These are part of the continuing development and professionalisation of Socitm. We are also voting for three new vice presidents who, jointly, will be responsible for guiding the Society through the next few years. I was due to go to the 'inaugural' meeting of the resuscitated  Socitm NW Region today in Manchester, but unfortunately develop an horrendous cold over the weekend - lost my voice, the lot. I know all you women will just say 'man flu' and think me a wuss but I cannot remember the last time I was ill with anything. Anyway I just couldn't make it to Manchester so Martin Ferguson will, I am sure, do an admirable job of being me.

My voice has returned, albeit very croaky, and I am gearing myself for the Conference.
What a week we've had, a British one / two in the GP, Newcastle will take the Championship and people are talking positively about the Lib Dems, who'd have ever thought it....? Apparently Nick Clegg is now the most popular party leader since Winston Churchill see: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article7100966.ece , now it doesn't get much more surreal than that.

Talking of elections and  manifestos and all things government, Socitm has just produced its 'Seven point plan for IT in public services' and will shortly be posting our analysis of the main parties’ manifestos against the plan.

Scott Mansfield a 'young professional' from the Society, who normally works with Leeds City Council, won our GWC travel award and is currently in Australia - actually NZ as of two days ago -  where he has been sorting out, sorry, learning about, how government happens in Oz and NZ - and particularly regarding online gov. You can read about his trip and experiences on his blog 

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

It's manifesto time

As I start to read the manifesto headlines and highlites, I will get around to reading the full versions, I already feel beset by cynicism although I was determined to avoid that pitfall. I wasn't far into them before I began thinking 'do I even come close to believing them?'. I realised that I don't, so what's the point? But I have an uneasy feeling that this attitude isn't helpful so I am searching for a helpful one. A search that has so far proved fruitless. It is quite sobering to read the last manifesto before the current one (although it doesn't assist in the attitude search) because you realise just how much is wishful thinking ( i am being generous here) and how little accountability our elected representatives actually have for their manifesto 'promises' once they are in power. The usual cry of 'you can express your feelings at the ballot box' is pretty empty and meaningless especially bearing in mind how much damage they can do in the interim.
The trouble is, is there a better way? - answers on a postcard please - so I guess until those pearls of wisdom come rolling in I've got some reading to do.

-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Having a break

Well, here I am in (not too sunny but there is always hope) north Wales:

....and you know what- I'm not bothered about the weather, it's just good not to be working :-)

I was reading yesterday about the need for rest and how, in our current culture, many have been conditioned to think about rest or 'inactivity' as fruitless instead of fruitful and I came across a great phrase, "don't just do something, stand there" Well, it's working for me!
Anyway, a 5 mile walk yesterday in what can best be described as 'brisk' conditions was a good start, although having just this minute seen a 60 year old friend return from a run I am now thinking that perhaps I should be running rather than walking, and that may have just ruined the holiday. No......it's OK, over it now :-)

If we do get any weather that allows us to see more than about 100 yards then Snowdon is on the itinerary, otherwise it will be morning coffee, cream tea, reading and some sessions at the conference that is being run here, and obviously avoiding seeing my friend begin or end their run! Will be back online next week, probably a little heavier and probably thinking about running! Oh, I went to see a guitarist last night called Roo Walker (that's not a typo) and he has got to be one of the best (and most entertaining) guitarists I have ever seen. ( http://www.roowalker.com/ )

-- Post From My iPhone

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Pre holiday blog - demob happy

 I'm off to north Wales next week, so demob happy and I'm not bothered what the weather is like as long as I am not working :-)

This week has been full of variety and challenges, or should that be opportunities?

It has been our main board meeting today and that usually becomes the focus of the week, and this week was no exception. As ever there was much to discuss and most of it was about serious issues that will (hopefully) have a positive impact upon the Society and its members. We have some far reaching plans for the restrucutre of Socitm commercial activites, all of which are ultimately there to provide resource to support and develop members, as well as some very positive resolutions on professionalsim and membership going forward to our AGM in April. We are beginning to see real progress on the far reaching decisions taken at the 2008 AGM at which we broadened our membership base and introduced a much more inclusive statement of vision.

Earlier in the week I met with a great company, Premier IT, having been introduced to them a couple of weeks previously at a charity IT conference. We are exploring options for the  provision of online CPD ,mentoring and social media functionality as part of our membership services.

At the board meeting today we had a comprehensive report form Martin Ferguson, our Head of Policy, and it was really encouraging to hear about the amount of significant and relevant activity and collaboration that Martin, on behalf of our members, is involved in, for more information see the Policy section of our website. As ever, there are a lot of actions with my initials next to them but that's all for the week after next........

In the meantime these may should amuse.....  :-)