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What would be your three policy lobbying priorities for the coming year and how would you make an impact on them?

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Jo miller and trevor holden

Jo miller and trevor holden

JM: Solace isn’t just about the president role so I’d want to work closely with our policy board and membership to shape this. I don’t see Solace as a lobbying organisation in its own right. We could and should influence though.

The best of local government are place shapers like no other, with a view across place, the totality of public service and a timeline beyond parliamentary cycles.

Our nation faces a real conundrum in delivering inclusive growth with public services fit for the future at a price it is prepared to pay. We can help to solve that conundrum building on the credibility of the sector through its response to austerity. So it’s all about influencing good economic growth and public service reform, in my view. There are some really obvious areas where we could make better use of public money and get better results for local people – in employment programmes, housing and skills to name but three.

How? By using our members to influence maximising their networks, by offering evidence to government, by having a seat at the table and using that seat well, and by working with other representative bodies and influencers to harness the power of collective, credible authority.

On a personal level, I’d like to see some more meaningful devolution conversations which at times can feel more like decentralised administration. Remember the local government workforce has reduced by 24% since 2010, whilst Whitehall has increased by 2% in the same period. And this in an age of devolution…


TH: My three, equally-placed, lobby priorities would be:

Reputation: as an advisor to the Solace board I was one of the architects of the policy-led structure that we now have in place. But we now need to really establish those policy boards and policy leads as creditable, trusted and ‘go to’ in the same way as the national police and crime commissioner specialists are for the police service. To do this, we need a clear communications strategy, a strong policy development framework and wide member engagement;

Membership: the strength of Solace is in its membership from retired members, servicing chief officers, Springboard and the NGDP, but this strength is only realised if there is genuine engagement by the society with its membership and vice versa. So my second lobby would be to engage with our membership and tap in to the rich seam of knowledge and innovation and to ensure that we are recognised as having a strong mandate from our membership, which drives and informs our ability to be solution finders and the ‘go to’ organisation for the sector. To achieve this we need to actively listen more, use IT better and deliver more regional or themed events. This election is a case in point as for the first time the president will be decided by the membership.

Collaboration: my third lobby would be for us as a sector to learn to like each other more and to collaborate at a sector or sub-sector level to drive innovation at pace and encouraging our supply chain to do the same. During a session at last year’s conference, a member asked a supplier “why do you get us to pay for the same product, or variations lots of times?” The reply was quick; “because you as a sector let us!”  We have to crack collaboration if we are to truly drive out cost and improve services. This has to be achieved through delivery of the above and then nailing some wins to gain momentum.  Digital is a case in point.

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