ENews Issue - 25 May 2006

ENews - May 2006

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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If you haven't yet fixed up planning-related training for your members after the elections but need to do so, we may still be able to help you. Although May to July is a particularly busy time for Councillor training, TRA has a large team of presenters involved and we still have limited availability for late June. Please get in touch as soon as possible if you are looking to organise training for June or July.

Details of the workshops available for Councillors can be found on our website, along with a list of our clients and feedback from previous participants.

If your authority doesn't have elections this year or if you are looking for more focused training for Councillors with some experience, we also offer a range of Briefings on specific topics.

If you are in Scotland and considering training for your Councillors, details of the options available can also be found on our website.

For further details and a no-commitment discussion please contact Penny O'Shea.


TRA is well-known for its workshops for planning and development staff and many of these can be delivered on your own premises for staff from your authority (and perhaps others from neighbouring authorities).

Dudley MBC have recently commissioned TRA to provide a series of six one-day workshops for their development control staff across the remainder of 2006. The first workshop, Preparing Committee Reports and Appeal Statements, was delivered earlier this month and gained excellent feedback:

"It was most helpful - very informative. We could do with more of these 'practical' training sesions to enable better planning delivery/services" Vijay Kaul

"Exceptionally well delivered course covering a lot of material, inviting open table discussions at a comfortable pace for all involved. Looking forward to more courses being delivered by TRA over the summer of '06." Greg Collings

Ot her in-house workshops delivered recently include Character and Appearance as a Material Consideration for Hertsmere BC, Supporting the Development Control Function for Stratford on Avon DC, and Making the Most of Section 106 Agreements for the London Borough of Brent.

TRA provides three main series of in-house officer training:

- in-house training for planning support staff

- in-house training in development control, including an excellent series on basic skills and procedures which is ideal for new or less experienced staff

- in-house training for inquiries.

If you would like further information on any of our in-house training sessions please contact Penny O'Shea.


Penny O'Shea attended the introductory event of the Academy for Sustainable Communities on behalf of TRA earlier this month in Leeds.

The event outlined the ASC's vision for creating sustainable communities and set out its priorities for the next two years. The keynote address was delivered by Baroness Andrews, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The ASC is committed to working with others to implement ground-breaking education and training programmes for three core target groups: young people, professionals and communities. As the UK's leading provider of practitioner-presented training/CPD for those involved in the planning and development field, TRA is particularly interested in the ASC's plans for targetting professionals. Part of the event was devoted to interactive workshops designed to gain delegates' views on the emerging challenges that the ASC should be addressing and TRA welcomed the opportunity to contribute to this discussion.

Further information on the Academy can be found on its website.


Brighton City Council and Tunbridge Wells DC are the latest authorities to have online DC Procedure Guides developed by TRA. Both Guides, which were officially handed over to the authorities earlier this month, were produced following a detailed review of procedures and performance.

The preparation of an authority specific online Procedure Guide is a unique service developed by TRA and Guides are now operational in 22 local authorities.

The procedure review element of these assignments is a vital part of the process and results in a substantial written report with justified conclusions and key recommendations for change. The implementation of these recommendations can have a significant impact on the quality, consistency and speed of development control.

Some basic information on this service is available on our website. It is also possible to view a demonstration version of the Procedure Guide. If you would like to explore things further please feel free to contact Penny O'Shea without obligation.

Please note that we can also produce Procedure Guides for Building Control. Details are available on our website.


Two authorities who commissioned TRA to review their Development Control Procedures and develop an online Procedure Guide have been highlighted as "big improvers" in the most recent round of PDG allocations. Eastleigh BC and Bury MBC were singled out in the Planning Portal's reporting of the latest allocations.

Both authorities are confident that TRA's involvement contributed to the recent improvements in their services.

Colin Peters, Head of Development Control at Eastleigh, says: "The most important factor in speeding up the process for us was to secure adequate staffing and the PDG gave us the funding for seven additional posts. We were, however, conscious that the PDG could not be relied on indefinitely for funding staff, so we needed to make ourselves more efficient and ensure that quality could be maintained in the long term. The review of the way we do things in Eastleigh which you carried out for us with a team of highly qualified and experienced professionals was extremely valuable and most of your recommendations were accepted. Similarly, your procedures manual which we are in the process of implementing will be of considerable long term benefit in ensuring consistency and maintaining high standards."

Tom Mitchell, Development Manager at Bury, has been in touch to say that things are going well. They are still working to most of the principles in our review, have secured an extra two posts in DC and Admin, and are maintaining performance levels.

Basic details of our DC Review and Procedure Guide service can be found on our website and a brochure is also available on request. For further information please contact Penny O'Shea.


More than 80 people participated in our latest Conference for Planning Support Staff held in London at the end of April. Participants came from the full range of authority types and, as well as strong support from the south east, people attended from as far afield as Boston, Nottinghamshire, Darlington and Ryedale. The event was well received and comments from participants were positive:

"Was not sure what to expect from this session but found it very informative as well as very relevant to myself and the staff I supervise." Deborah Holland, Darlington BC

"Excellent, very interesting, nice to meet people from other authorities." Christine Sherwood-Phelps, RB of Windsor & Maidenhead

"Speakers were very passionate about their topics which added value to the conference."

"I am new to Planning and found the issues interesting and helpful."

Although the c onference is aimed primarily at support staff themselves, quite a number of officers with managerial/supervisory responsibility for the support function have also attended and found it beneficial. This is certainly something we would recommend.

The conference is run twice each year, once in London and once in Manchester, hopefully giving everyone who is interested in attending the opportunity to do so. The next event will be in Manchester on 28 September 2006 and details of speakers and topics will be publicised soon. If you would like to register your interest in receiving details once they are available please get in touch. You can also keep an eye on our website where details will be posted as soon as possible.


Preparing Committee Reports and Appeal Statements: how to be both effective and efficient is one of the most popular workshops in our programme. Suitable for all development control officers, it is of particular benefit to those who are relatively new or less experienced.

The workshop is presented by David Kaiserman, one of TRA's Senior Associates, and takes a very practical look at the preparation of committee reports and simple appeal statements. It offers guidance on how to strike the right balance between covering all the issues and the need to be succinct; advice on what to put in and what to leave out; and provides essential background on what Councillors and Inspectors are actually looking for in reports and statements.

"How to write committee reports put in an easy to understand form and great detail. Took some tips hom e for the authority". Catrin Williams, Denbighshire CC

"It gave clear guidance that could be applied to all applications and detailed discussion on real cases." Rachael Richardson, Scarborough BC

The workshop is next running in London on 21 September. There are places still available but early booking is recommended for this popular event. For a leaflet/booking form or to reserve a place please telephone TRA. Places can be reserved provisionally using the provisional booking facility of our website.


If you've missed a recent issue of ENews or even deleted it by mistake (highly unlikely, we know) then there's no need to worry. Previous issues of the TRA monthly newsletter can now be accessed via our website. Just visit the Newsletter Archives page and catch up on the news you've missed.


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 Alan Southerby from Braintree DC who has been promoted to Head of Service, responsible for Development Control, Building Control and Land Charges. Alan is part way through the certificated programme in Management Concepts & Skills in Planning. He says "It's a great opportunity for me and having now completed two out of the four modules, I'm looking forward to my third module in the autumn and hopefully completing the course in 2007. There's no doubt that the course is helping me fulfil my management career aspirations." We wish him all the best.


We'd like to introduce the newest member of the TRA team, Suzanne Waldram, who joined the Bolton office at the end of April as Senior Administrator looking after our in-house training services.

Suzanne is in her (very) early thirties, born and bred in Bolton and lives locally with her husband, baby boy and two cats. Before joining TRA, she guided and delivered training to the unemployed - a very challenging but enjoyable role, in which she also gained a C&G qualification in delivering learning. Before this, she worked for over 10 years for a small recruitment agency were she progressed from office junior to Recruitment Co-ordinator, involving administration, sales, customer service and, of course, lots of co-ordination and liaison.

She joined TRA because she wanted to work for a professional company within the training field and enjoys the close contact with colleagues, clients and presenters. After a few weeks in post she is thoroughly enjoying h er role whilst getting to grips with the various courses and terminology.

In her spare time (although there isn't much with a new baby), she chills out by spending quality time with her son, watching TV (especially 24 and the Apprentice), socialising with family and friends, and drinking the odd glass or two of Rose wine!


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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