ENews Issue - 23 January 2007

ENews - January 2007

TRA ENews is the monthly newsletter of Trevor Roberts Associates. It provides information about TRA generally, its staff and Associates, current and forthcoming events, new training courses and consultancy services etc.

View our contact Information or subscription information.


At long last, TRA is gearing up to transfer its publicity circulation over to email instead of traditional postal mailshots. This will need to be done in stages and may take a while but we are keen to start building up our emailing list now.

The best way to let us have your details is to complete our mailing list sign-up form. You will be asked to provide both a postal address and an email address to cover the period of changeover and because it is likely that sending details by post may still be the most appropriate option in some cases.

Don't worry if you already receive our publicity by post - we won't duplicate your entry - and completing the form will make sure we have your up-to-date details. It also gives you the opportunity to choose the broad topic areas you are interested in.

We won't bombard you with emails and we will not pass on your information to anyone else. Details of our privacy policy are on the sign-up form.


Response to the launch of the Planning Administrators' Network (PAN) has been really encouraging and more than 80 people had joined at the last count.

PAN is a brand new initiative, aiming to provide a way for people working in planning administration and support to contact each other and share their experiences, issues, problems etc. Obviously, the success of the network will depend very much on the people who join the network and the use they make of it. We have had a few questions raised in the Discussion Forums and we would encourage people to make use of this facility. Don't be shy - if you have a question, just ask!

Here are a couple of questions that we at TRA would like to raise and we'd be really interested to hear your views and experiences:

  1. Is anyone finding it difficult to get their computer systems to produce PS1 returns which properly reconcile the "in-hand" application figures for the beginning and end of the quarters? This is an issue we've come across in a number of authorities during our reviews of their DC procedures.
  2. Regarding scanning of old application files - what line is being taken in your authority as to what should be scanned and what can be discarded?

If you'd like to respond to either of these please visit the PAN website www.PlanningAdministratorsNetwork.co.uk and post your response in the Forums. If you haven't visited before you will need to register for membership but registration is really quick and easy and membership is absolutely free.


Back in December, the London Borough of Enfield organised a CPD Fortnight for its Environmental Heath and Regulation staff. The content of the training programme was particularly wide-ranging to reflect the many areas in which these officers are involved, including Food Fraud, Assessing Noise Nuisance, Pest Control, and Licensing: The Gambling Act.

TRA's contribution was an introduction to Planning Enforcement delivered by Senior Associate, Vivien Green. Vivien is one of TRA's most experienced presenters and is responsible for our certificated course in planning enforcement run in conjunction with the University of Cambridge.

Feedback on the session was very positive:

- "She knows her stuff. Made quite a dull subject interesting. Really useful and very relevant."

- "Very clear to a total novice on enforcement. She obviously has 'been there and got the T-shirt'."

- "Good structure and very thorough case study - gave good chance for debate and showed some of the problems faced when an investigation takes place."

We can provide a range of training on planning enforcement for both officers and councillors on an in-house basis. Please contact Suzanne Waldram if this may be of interest.

We also run a number of inter-authority workshops on related subjects such as Permitted Development, Effective Planning and Enforcement Site Visits, Understanding Operational Development. See our programmes in England and Wales and Scotland for details.


The end of January 2007 marks 10 years at TRA for Penny O'Shea, Principal Director.

Reflecting on Penny's time with the company, Trevor Roberts said "In the decade she has been with TRA, Penny has become TRA. She has been key to transforming what was a small scale outfit revolving around me personally into a multi-faceted national training and consultancy operation. Her commercial expertise is combined with a personal touch and sense of humour which is valued by all those who work with her."

With the anniversary (and hopefully a big cake with candles) approaching, Penny herself says "Although lots of things have changed at TRA in the last 10 years, the reasons I enjoy working here haven't changed at all. Firstly, I work with a great team of people who manage to work hard and enjoy themselves at the same time, and I'm really grateful for their friendship and support. And secondly, there's always something new to learn or a new challenge to take on. Joining TRA was a great career move for me and I like to think that the company and I have grown a lot together over the years. We're definitely both older but I think we're stronger and wiser too. Roll on the next 10 years!


Details are now available of the TRA Enforcement Forum taking place in Warrington on Tuesday 27 March 2007.

This event is hugely popular and early booking is strongly recommended.

Publicity leaflets will be circulated to our usual mailing contacts shortly. In the meantime, details of speakers and topics can be found on our website or you can download a leaflet/booking form here.


The need for training for councillors involved in the planning system is widely acknowledged and has been for a number of years. This need was recently reiterated by the government in the DCLG's Final Report on Councillor Involvement in Planning Decisions, published this month. It recommends that:

  • "all Members of the Council should receive training in planning matters, especially where there is a structure in place to allow decisions to be referred up to full Council or any possibility that they will be asked to stand in for a Member on the Planning Committee

  • Members should be encouraged to keep their skills and knowledge up to date by attending training sessions on at least an annual basis."

TRA has an extensive track-record of providing planning-related training for Councillors over many years. We are always particularly busy in the period just after the local elections and we already have a large number of sessions booked during May and June. If you are thinking about training around this time we would suggest that you contact us sooner rather than later. You might want to consider commissioning either one or both of our two main on-day sessions A Briefing on Planning for Councillors or The Role of Councillors in Planning:probity and propriety issues.

If your authority isn't having elections this year but you are still keen to provide training opportunties for planning/DC Committee members on an ongoing basis, TRA also offers a variety of half-day or full-day workshops on a range of planning-related topics - see our website for a list of suggested topics.

For those of you in Scotland, we will be getting in touch shortly about the options for Councillor training after the elections but, in the meantime, some basic information is available on our website.

For any information or to arrange a training session please contact Suzanne Waldram.


TRA was recently commissioned by the Improvement Service in Scotland to develop and deliver a practical two-day workshop on Negotiating Planning Agreements for Large Scale Land Releases, in response to specific requests from a number of authorities.

The Improvement Service is a partnership between the Scottish Executive, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE). Its aim is to improve the efficiency, quality and accountability of public services in Scotland through learning, sharing knowledge and delivering improvement solutions.

The workshop was delivered in Edinburgh at the end of November and was attended by 14 participants from a range of authorities across Scotland. The TRA presenters were Lee Prebble and Trevor Roberts, and a specialist contribution was provided by Colin Cumberland, Managing Director of property developers Applecross and board member of Homes for Scotland.

"On the whole, very rewarding and enlightening. Well worth the trip." Toby Coke, Aberdeen City Council

"The course did meet my expectations. In particular, I found the development finance section and shared experience elements most helpful." Gail Rae, South Lanarkshire Council.

The intention is that the workshop will now be able for delivery at the request of individual authorities (or a group of authorities). If you would like further details please get in touch.


It is now possible to download PDF leaflets/booking forms for all the events in this unique new programme developed by TRA.

Leaflets/booking forms for individual workshops can be downloaded here. Details of the programme as a whole can be found here and a brochure is also available for download. Hard copies of the brochure/leaflets can also be sent on request.

TRA has extensive experience of providing management training and development over the past 20 years. Although in recent years this has focused on training for those in the planning/development field, it originally began as an inter-disciplinary series for anyone in local government wanting to extend their management skills.

Across our full range of management training, TRA's aim is to take the mystique out of management. Crucially, the workshops are presented by people with lengthy local government experience at a senior level.

The workshops begin running in March 2007 and prompt booking is recommended for these limited-numbers events.

Since this series is aimed at staff in any department, we are keen to reach people beyond our existing planning/development contacts, so please feel free to forward these details to any colleagues you think might be interested or to your personnel/HR department.

Please note that the workshops in this programme can also be delivered on an in-house basis for individual authorities. Please get in touch for more information.


The 2007 programme of workshops organised by TRA on behalf of NATO (the National Association of Tree Officers) is now available. Brochures will be circulated to our usual mailing contacts in the next few weeks and details are available on the website now.

The programme features many of our well-established workshops as well as two new ones: Project management of external contracts and E-standards for trees.

Discounted prices are available via our block booking scheme if you book 3 or more places (spread over any number of events). A special block booking form can be downloaded here.

Many of the workshops get booked up quite quickly so early booking is advised. Please contact Shelagh Pooley to reserve places or for further information.


It is now possible to download PDF leaflets/booking forms for all the events in this exciting new programme developed by TRA.

TRA has over 15 years' experience in training Councillors involved in the planning system. This brand new programme is aimed at all Councillors - Cabinet members, Scrutiny Committee members, chairs and convenors, and "backbenchers". The workshops are designed to equip Councillors to fulfil their difficult roles effectively; to maximise their impact; and, crucially, to enjoy the job.

The programme is divided into two separate mini-series:

* The Councillors' Toolkit - a series of workshops aimed at equipping all Councillors with the knowledge and skills to handle their roles competently, correctly and effectively.

* Executive Briefings - a series of workshops aimed principally at key portfolio holders, to assist them handle their role and functions in an informed manner, so that they can contribute fully and effectively in their Cabinet/Executive.

Leaflets/booking forms for individual workshops can be downloaded here. A brochure, providing details of the programme as a whole is also available for download. Hard copies of any of these can also be sent on request.

The workshops begin running in March 2007 and prompt booking is recommended for these limited-numbers events.

Since this series is aimed at all Councillors, we are keen to reach people beyond our existing planning/development contacts, so please feel free to forward these details to any colleagues you think might be interested or to your Member Services department.

Please note that the Councillors' Toolkit workshops can also be delivered on an in-house basis for individual authorities. Please get in touch if this option is of interest.


Trevor Roberts Associates

1 Atlas House, St. Georges Square,

Bolton, BL1 2HB,

United Kingdom Tel: (01204) 385678 Fax: (01204) 386376 Email: mail@tra-ltd.co.uk Website: http://www.tra-ltd.co.uk/


You can subscribe or unsubscribe directly from the form below. Alternatively, you can visit the Enews page on our website and manage your subscription from there.

You can also forward this email to a colleague and they can subscribe themselves using this form, or again via the Enews page on our website.


TRA will not share your email address with any third party, and you will only receive occasional emails from TRA. We do not use unsolicited email of any form.