In a break with tradition, SOLACE held its AGM during the LGA conference.
The AGM marked the next step in the society's shift towards a professional infrastructure with support for the proposals to appoint a director general and to merge SOLACE's commercial companies. Ultimately the society hopes to become incorporated with new arrangements for governance and member support established.
The meeting marked the end of a dynamic four year term of office for honorary secretary David Henshaw who steps down from that role in order to concentrate on his role as senior vice-president of SOLACE and in managing the merger of the Commercial Companies. The post of honorary secretary will adjust under the new arrangements and Clive Grace of Torfaen CBC, becomes the new honorary secretary. The SOLACE office will remain in Knowsley for the foreseeable future.
The new president and the other honorary Officers will maintain the momentum of change and improvement and keen targets have been set for the amalgamation of the companies and the appointment of the director general. Strenuous efforts have been made to further develop the Scheme for Continuous Learning and the range of benefits available to members. The society's annual conference to be held in Newport in September has been developed in partnership with the Improvement & Development Agency and in liaison with government departments. The conference too will demonstrate the considerable commitment of the society to the overall improvement agenda.
In his presidential address Sandy Blair made it clear that he wants to see local government gain a new positive reputation at both national and local level based on quality service, so those who serve in local government can do so with satisfaction and those who don't will increasingly aspire to do so.
'Deserving such a reputation requires a substantial commitment to improvement both now and for the future: the step changes needed require a mixture of cultural change and enhanced capacity leading to higher calibre members and managers. This is what SOLACE will strive for, both for itself and for local government as a whole'.
Sandy Blair has been chief executive of Newport CBC since Welsh local
government reorganisation in 1995. Prior to that he was chief executive of Newport BC for three years and of Bassetlaw DC for seven years (10/84-3/92). He started his local government career with Knowsley MBC in 1974, having previously worked in private legal practice.