ACSeS Annual Training Forum 2011 - Change and the Localism Agenda24 November 2011
- There was a very positive buzz at the Grand Harbour Hotel, Southampton, where members of the Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors (ACSeS) gathered in mid November for their major annual training event and AGM.
- With an excellent range of speakers on hot topics across the current local government spectrum (including David Prout, Director-General – Localism at the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG)) and ending on a high note with an encouraging address from CLG Minister, Bob Neill, the word from delegates was that the event had succeeded in hitting all the key issues head-on. And, of course, in a display of immaculate timing, as the Forum opened, the Localism Bill received Royal Assent and became the Localism Act 2011!
- At the ACSeS AGM on 17 November, Philip McCourt, Assistant Director – Law and Governance at Milton Keynes Council was elected ACSeS President, taking over from Susan Tovey of Test Borough Council who stepped down after a highly successful and energetic year.
- Philip opened his address by thanking Susan for her year which, he said, had been one of ‘great steps further forward for ACSeS’. For the Association has over the year ‘. . . responded to the Public Services White Paper and, most importantly, actively responded to the need for dialogue throughout the passage of the Localism Bill.’
- He continued:
‘ACSeS has also adapted to the changes brought about by the testing financial settlement, deepened its relationship with Solicitors in Local Government (SLG) and the Association of Democratic Services Officers (ADSO), and further developed valuable relationships with colleagues at CLG.’
‘And with the particular help of some of those present, ACSeS has also seen the launch of its new website which is about to go live with some further substantial improvements. Leaving aside the excellent timing of the new Localism Act, I will certainly not be the first or last to say that this is one of the best conferences we have had for many a year.’
- But what of the forthcoming year which will see the Localism Act bedding down in local and public authorities across the country and new powers in the forthcoming Finance Bill (amongst other things) to enable tax increment financing?
- The President announced that his theme for 2011/2012 would be ‘unity of purpose and vision’:
‘This will be the year where we will work hardest to effect the coming together of ACSeS and SLG into one new organisation to provide a unified voice for all local government lawyers and senior governance practitioners.
‘For the closer we work with our fellow organisations (including SLG, CIPFA and SOLACE) and with our colleagues in central government, to create essential unity of purpose and vision, the greater the weight that will be given to us as the acknowledged voice of professional best practice in local authority law and governance.’
- He concluded by saying that:
‘The coming year of course presents us with the opportunities arising from making the Localism Act work in practice on the ground in the range of different authorities across the land. It will therefore be gratifying to have our voice heard ever more clearly as the key source of advice and best practice in law and governance. This will be equally so in the development of the Finance and Health Bills and other forthcoming legislation affecting local government. ACSeS therefore looks forward to another strong year of helping take forward the local government agenda positively in partnership with key colleagues.
Notes for Editors
- ACSeS represents Chief and Senior Legal Officers of all English and Welsh local authorities and is the professional association for managers of corporate governance (legal, administrative, democratic, scrutiny and standards functions) and statutory monitoring officers and their deputies in local authorities in England and Wales.
- The Association plays a leading role in developing governance arrangements in local government and works closely with other associations, Government Departments and agencies.
- The Association also provides a network for its members to enable discussion, consultation, training and development on legal and governance matters.
- Tax Increment Financing would enable authorities to provide investment and infrastructure by borrowing against the resultant anticipated increase in business rates.
- Philip McCourt, who was elected President of ACSeS at its Annual General Meeting on 17 November 2011, is Assistant Director – Law and Governance with Milton Keynes Council.
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