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DIARY - TOULMIN SMITH

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The green paper on children?s services has been gestating for quite a few months so it came as something of a surpr...
The green paper on children?s services has been gestating for quite a few months so it came as something of a surprise when the nation?s directors of social services received a frantic message from the government last week. ?Send us examples of good practice,? ministers cried. And the deadline? ?Tomorrow.?

Good to know this well-needed green paper has been given the careful consideration it deserves.

Tony Blair?s guru Charles Leadbeater was keen to plug his book The man in the caravan during a speech on improvement at this year?s Local Government Association conference.

But who is the man in the caravan?

In the book, Mr Leadbeater says it is Wilf, who the social policy thinker discovered living in a mobile home in Kent and whose story he tells.

But during his speech to the LGA, Mr Leadbeater repeatedly called him Alf.

The slip-up made me consider the identity of the man addressing the conference. Could it be it wasn?t Mr Leadbetter at all but disgraced former DJ and presenter Chris Evans?

Environmental health officers at Kirklees MBC recently had the unenviable task of visiting a house where a dog owner had pinned bags of dog muck on his washing line.

The reason for this strange behaviour is the owner wanted to prove he was not responsible for the mess in the street.

Neighbours had complained about a mess on the pavement and the dog owner felt aggrieved at the inference that he ? or more accurately his dog ? was responsible.

Unsurprisingly, the 28-bag display upset neighbours and led to calls to the council.

photo ross parry

The AGMs of local government?s professional associations are gloomy affairs at the best of times, with members earnestly discussing the annual accounts in the sombre surroundings of council chambers.

The only element of high living to be seen is tea and biscuits, and these days you can?t even count on the pink wafers putting in an appearance.

So I was thrilled to see the London branch of the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers breaking the mould.

Solace held their AGM at Terence Conran?s trendy Zinc Bar in the West End, well-known hang-out for ?it? girls.

We must hope the exhilaration of the occasion does not prompt London chief executives into indiscretions.

I am always heartened to report on petty differences that have been laid to one side for the greater good.

Only two months ago, when the fire strike was raging on, I revealed how firefighters had rescued a man trapped in a lift. The man turned out to be one of the Fire Brigades Union?s key adversaries from the Employers? Organisation (LGC, 2 May).

The spirit of co-operation lives on, with the EO?s head of futures, Jill Mortimer, being called upon to help Unison?s head of local government Heather Wakefield with her slides at LGC?s People Management conference.

Any suspicion the section on performance-related pay sounded rushed is entirely without foundation.

If you wish to disseminate any gossip, please e-mail me on

joshua.toulminsmith@lgc.emap.com

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