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BACKCHAT - TOULMIN SMITH

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We will rock you...
We will rock you

The LGC Events team are renowned throughout the Local Government Pension Scheme community for being able to throw a mean after-dinner bash as well as arranging killer conferences.

Delegates at the recent Pension Funds & Public Responsibility forum could have been forgiven for fearing the worst when it was revealed that the evening's entertainment would have a musical theme. Fortunately this involved Simon May, composer of TV theme tunes such as EastEnders, running affairs at the keyboard.

The only disappointed delegate was Bill Roots, former chief executive at Westminster City Council and chairman for the day, who had come specially prepared with a cassette of Queen's Greatest hits album in the hope he might be called upon.

Get wriggly with it

Camden LBC makes no attempt to wriggle out of taking waste management seriously.

To face the challenge of disposing of its waste, the council is devising innovative ways of composting. Bring on the wriggly revolution. It has installed a wormery on the roof of the town hall. Staff now have the option of disposing of their tea bags, banana skins and apple cores in collection tubs in their office, which will be collected by a team 'worm charmer' and deposited in the wormery.

Now let's wait and see whether other councils take on board some earthworms to act as their waste disposal force.

Kelly's clanger

Ruth Kelly may have been expecting a different reaction to the one she got from her speech at the Local Government Association conference, on announcing her commitment to reducing inspections. She may have envisaged cheers, or at least robust clapping. But a guffaw?

Perhaps the fact her inspection-busting team will have the inordinately hilarious name of the 'Lifting Burdens Task Force' had something to do with it.

She may not have been too happy at the reaction to her suggestion local government is keen on the idea of directly elected mayors either.

On mentioning she believed the idea was popular, a lone voice piped up: 'No, it's not!' She'd do well to take on that brave soul as a new adviser.

Take a good look

There was rejoicing in the Passenger Transport Executive Group when transport minister Gillian Merron announced a review of their powers over buses (LGC, 6 July).

Or did she? Ms Merron said ministers would take 'a long hard look' at their issue. The executive group described this as 'a review'.

Oh dear me no. It seems 'a long hard look' and 'a review' are quite different things.

A spokeswoman said 'a review' implied 'something more formal with a report'.

Does this mean a ministerial 'look' means nothing will be done, while 'a review' means nothing will be done eventually?

Dead nice

I wanted to thank Kent Fire & Rescue Service personally for taking the trouble to invite me to their marvellous fire education launch (LGC, 29 June. They rang an LGC reporter to ask if

'Mr Toulmin Smith, Joshua Toulmin Smith', would like to attend their function. The reporter tried to decline on my behalf but they were adamant about passing on the invitation directly. Alas they backed down when our reporter managed to convey the message that I've been dead since 1869.

Duck emergency

When eight little ducklings found themselves in a hole in Chesterfield, the borough council swung into action.

A development officer was holding a meeting near a local lake when tweeting noises grabbed everyone's attention.

A quick search revealed that the feathery friends had gone through the metal grate on the lake's overflow and were unable to get out.

Our intrepid heroes used a sledgehammer to remove the cover and reunite the ducklings with their anxious mother. Now that's what I call a happy ending.

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