ENews Issue - 28 June 2007

ENews - June 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.

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Two brand new management development workshops will be running in September as part of the Management in the Modern Local Authority series launched by TRA earlier this year.

The series has been specifically designed for senior and middle managers (below Director/Chief Officer level) working in any local authority department. The workshops are practical events, relating closely to the contemporary local government milieu, and delivered by people with lengthy local government experience at a senior level.

Understanding and managing the officer/political interface - 18 September, Bristol - is aimed at all staff who have contact on a regular basis with elected members within their organisation. It will assist them to understand the officer/political interface and the various mechanisms for ensuring it operates smoothly, efficiently and positively without sacrificing the essential qualities which the different components possess.

The customer interface: building it into the organisation - 25 September, London - is aimed at those with managerial responsibility for the customer interface, rather than at front-line staff themselves. Many authorities have spent a lot of money on improving their customer interface staff and facilities but unless this is matched by serious analysis of the way the organisation and the customer interact, the response from customers can be disappointing. The workshop looks in detail at management of the customer interface, considering many practical ways in which customer response can be improved, building customer care into the organisation at every level.

Places are available on both workshops. PDF leaflets/booking forms can be downloaded using the links above. Firm bookings can be made by returning a completed booking form to TRA. Provisional bookings can be made by telephone or using the provisional booking facility on our website.


TRA has recently been involved in establishing an important new action learning project, working alongside the Planning Officers' Society and 16 local planning authorities from across England. The output of the Development Management Practice Project will be a series of Best Practice Guidance Notes to assist those involved in development management. The Guidance Notes will focus on particular areas of practice where there is currently little in the way of formal guidance as to what constitutes best practice.

The project began in April 2007 and is initially set to run for 12 months. The first two topics covered were public speaking in planning committees and minor amendments on planning applications at both the pre and post decision stages. Future work will focus on topics such as:

  • how authorities should best approach the issues of validation
  • the involvement of members at the pre-application stage, and
  • the management of major applications.
The Guidance Notes will be posted on both the TRA and Planning Officers' Society websites as they are produced. Click here to download free of charge the first Guidance Note on Public Speaking in Planning Committees.


TRA is aiming to extend its popular training workshop format to cover Building Control and we are on the lookout for suitable people to join our team.

We would be interested to hear from individuals who have extensive experience/expertise in the Building Control field, along with the communication skills necessary to deliver practical and interactive training in the subject. Ideally, some previous experience of delivering training would be preferred.

Training topics will depend on the experience of the presenters involved but, at this stage, likely topics include: - the basics of BC for support staff - listed buildings - schools and hospitals - barn conversions - development on hazardous sites - customer care in a competitive environment.

There may also be an opportunity at a later stage to get involved in procedural/organisation consultancy work in the building control field.

Anyone interested can contact us on a no-commitment basis. Plea se email, with details of experience and other relevant background information, to jobs. (NB please don't telephone).


TRA has been organising an annual training programme on behalf of NATO (the National Association of Tree Officers) since 2000 and the programme is now well-established. The first half of the 2007 programme has now been delivered but workshops will begin running again after the summer break, starting in September.

Places are currently available on all 7 of the workshops running in the September-December period, although some have more limited availability than others. Topics covered include:

High Hedges: assessment of applications - Bristol, 19 September

Working with the new British Standard 5837:2005 - Bristol, 6 November

Resurveying TPOs: strategies and logistics - York, 20 November

Details of the other workshops in the programme can be found on our website.

If you would like to reserve a place please contact Shelagh Pooley or return your completed booking form to us as soon as possible. PDF leaflets/booking forms can be downloaded via the links above.


The TRA Councillor training team is currently working flat out delivering training for councillors involved in planning following the elections in May. Many of these sessions are targeted at new councillors or those new to the Planning Committee and are therefore covering the "basics" of the system, usually in the form of either one or both of our two most popular workshops, A Briefing on Planning for Councillors and The Role of Councillors in Planning: propriety and good practice.

If, however, you are looking to provide more focused training on a particular topic (perhaps for more experienced councillors or because of a particular issue in your authority) then TRA can provide a wide range of Briefing s on specific aspects of planning. Some of the topics covered include:

  • sustainability and its link to the planning framework
  • planning enforcement
  • updates on planning policies, PPG/PPS changes etc
  • handling the media
  • the Development Plan Framework
  • planning obligations and agreements.

A full list of topics can be found using the link above. We are also happy to consider developing bespoke or tailored sessions where required.

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


There is still time to book one of the last few places on TRA's specialist workshop for Planning Chairs/Portfolio Holders. The workshop is running over two days, 19 & 20 July at Madingley Hall, Cambridge, an excellent venue for residential events.

The workshop is uniquely aimed at key players in modern local authority structures - Chairs and Portfolio holders - who are charged with making these arrangements work in the planning field. Issues covered include:

  • the interface between Cabinet/Executive, Scrutiny, Regulatory, Standards and Area functions
  • the relationship between the statutory planning system and broader corporate/community plans
  • mechanisms for ensuring effective and informed councillor input into planning policy
  • decision-making procedures: what can and can't be done
  • the relationship between policy making and regulatory functions in plannin g
  • the changing roles of councillors and officers.

Please click here for further details, including a PDF leaflet/booking form.


As mentioned in a previous issue of ENews, TRA and the Planning Inspectorate have been developing a brand new workshop on Examinations of Development Plan Documents.

The one-day workshop has now been finalised and is scheduled to run four times during the second half of 2007 as follows: Manchester - 20 September / London - 26 September / York - 30 October / Bristol - 21 November.

The workshop will be delivered jointly by TRA Senior Associate, Jed Griffiths, and Planning Inspector, David Fenton. It aims to provide those who are about to be involved in a DPD examination with a better understanding of the new system, what it is designed to achieve, and - crucially - how they personally can participate in the process effectively.

Further details can be found on our website and bookings are now being taken for what we anticipate will be a particularly popular workshop. Click here to download a PDF leaflet/booking form. To reserve a place provisionally please contact Shelagh Pooley or use our online provisional booking facility.

Please note that this workshop can also be delivered on an in-house basis for individual authorities (or a group of authorities). If you would like further information please contact Suzanne Waldram.


This section of ENews is a way for people who have taken part in the TRA/Cambridge University certificated courses to keep in contact with us and each other. We are keen to keep in touch so please let Shelagh at TRA know if you have any news.

Congratulations to Lisa Price from South Gloucestershire Council who has recently completed her Masters Degree in Town and Country Planning at UWE. Lisa had previously completed the TRA certificated course in Planning Enforcement and was awarded the Cambridge University Certificate in February 2006.

Best of luck to Mark Turner from Slough BC who will be one of 10 motorcyclists riding across Europe to Chernobyl in August to raise money for UK charity Chernobyl Children's Project. Mark has co mpleted three modules on the Cambridge course in Planning Enforcement and is currently studying for a degree in Town Planning. If anyone would like to sponsor Mark, please contact Shelagh Pooley for website details.

Beverley Kuchar will begin her new job as DC Team Manager at the Royal Borough of Kingston at the start of July. Beverley is moving from Elmbridge BC and has recently completed the certificated course in Management Concepts and Skills and is awaiting confirmation that she will be awarded the Cambridge University Certificate. She says "I think some of the things I learnt at Madingley and the confidence gained from the course helped me through the interview. So here's a big thank you."

Bill Crosby has moved from the Yorkshire Dales National Park to take up the post of Enforcement Officer with Sedgefield BC. Bill has begun the certificated enforcement course and is hoping to complete it with the support of his new authority.

Jonathan Lester has become the Mayor of Bromyard in Hertfordshire. Jonathan, who works for Worcester City Council, received his Certificate in Planning Enforcement at a ceremony held earlier this month at Madingley (more on the awards ceremony in next month's ENews).


Details are now available of the latest TRA Conference for Planning Support Staff taking place in Manchester on Thursday 27 September 2007.

This event has been extremely popular in recent years 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 PDF leaflet/booking form here.


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/


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