|Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government|
Monday - meeting with Colleagues at Headquarters. Travel costs and Environmental Strategy
Tuesday - stand in for a Colleague at a conference in London (see below)
Wednesday - actually at my desk!
Thursday - meeting with regional Colleagues around a business development project in Cambridge (Moller Centre). Afterwards, ran gently for an hour into Cambridge and along the river bank. Stayed the night. Food was delicious but too much!
Friday - continuation of Thursday. More delicious food. Joined by Leaders / Ultimate Decision Makers. One dissenter, meeting was soured. Regrouped afterwards for consolidation and licking wounds.
Oh yes, Tuesday, the Conference in London. I was asked to go as the original plan for a Colleague to go hadn't worked. At £350 a place and public sector finance being in straitened times, it made sense for someone to go. Very interesting hearing about Community Based Budgets, building on the Total Place concept and I'm pleased I went.
I was amused by Edward Twiddy (HM Treasury) talking about public money being "Less money but it's more yours" in referring to the need for Whitehall to back off and interfere less. Music to my ears.
Eric Pickles was fascinating overall. He arrived late, came in, read his speech, answered some questions and left, almost on autopilot. This isn't the first time I've seen a high ranking politician behave like this, no matter what party. Really, is this the way to conduct oneself or be re-elected? Few smiles, little warmth, remote connection with the audience. I could warm to what he was saying in following the theme of more freedom for local authorities but I think it is fair to say, he wasn't the most charismatic of speakers, really. If the Government follow through on this approach and it's as good as it sounds, that'll be very good for local communities and as cost effective as people choose to make it. So far, so good. A few questions came and the last was answered by a simple "No" followed by the explanation (in his North county accent) "that was a politically motivated question", picked up his papers and stood up; was swiftly thanked by the conference chair and left. That, was that.
Now it's Friday evening. Kids in bed (asleep hopefully), the washing up is done and thoughts of getting back to normal again this weekend without having to be "on-guard" at work. Lets relax, unwind, potter, daydream, run, cycle and see what happens.