ENews Issue - 04 July 2008

ENews - July 2008

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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New look for TRA website - 04/07/08

If you are a regular reader of TRA ENews or visitor to the TRA website you will probably have noticed something different this month. We've had a makeover!

The website has been re-designed and re-organised to make it more attractive and, hopefully, more informative. We hope that you will approve of the changes.

Planning agreements and obligations - training and consultancy options - 04/07/08

TRA is currently developing a new package of training and consultancy services relating to Planning Agreements and Obligations (s106 & s75), aimed at improving understanding, application and management of this tricky aspect of the planning system.

Full details will be available shortly but in the meantime, here is a sneak preview of what will be available:

  • a series of inter-authority training workshops, run in venues across the UK, to build up the skills and knowledge of planning staff
  • in-house versions of these workshops for individual authorities (or groups of neighbouring authorities) plus some extra sessions only available on an in-house basis
  • two annual Forums (north and south) to provide updates and facilitate information exchange
  • inter-authority and in-house workshops for Councillors
  • an in-house workshop for beneficiary departments
  • specialist briefings for agents and developers
  • procedure reviews and specifications relating to s106/s75 agreements
  • a highly specialist facilitation consultancy service for parties involved in discussions about significant applications where planning agreements/obligations are involved.

Look out for further details on the website and in ENews in the next month or so. If you would like to make sure you receive details as soon as they are available please let us know at promotion@tra-ltd.co.uk.

Reception skills training for Kirklees - 04/07/08

TRA recently delivered a training workshop for reception staff working in planning, building control and local land charges at Kirklees Metropolitan Council. The workshop was based on a session which has been run many times on an in-house and inter-authority basis. Although aimed aimed primarily at staff who undertake front-line public reception, it is also of benefit to those who have supervisory responsibility for reception staff, functions and areas.

Specific objectives of the workshop are:

  • to equip participants with an understanding of the structure and stages of the reception process; this is more complex than sometimes realised, even by those directly involved
  • to develop skills associated with the different stages of reception, emphasising the highly critical initial stage
  • to consider how reception facilities and organisation can be improved
  • to explore aspects of reception practice and how this can be improved
  • generally, to equip participants with a deeper and more systematic understanding of the job of reception and to develop their confidence in doing it.

If you would like further information on this course and how to commission TRA to deliver it for you please contact Suzanne Waldram (suzanne@tra-ltd.co.uk). Please see our website for details of our other in-house training for planning support staff.

The Damaging Process of Reorganising Local Government? - 03/07/08

One of TRA's Associates, Steve Leach, has just written a book (jointly with Michael Chisholm) castigating the process of local government restructuring which has culminated recently in the creation of string of new unitary authorities. It is unlikely to win him any friends in Whitehall!

If you would like to read it for yourself, the booked is titled - "Botched Business - the Damaging Process of Reorganising Local Government", and costs about £17.00 via Amazon.

Steve Leach is Professor of Local Government at De Montford University. He has worked with TRA for many years, most recently alongside Trevor Roberts delivering a two-day inter-authority workshop for Planning Committee Chairs and Planning Portfolio Holders.

Trevor Roberts addresses Scottish Councillors - 03/07/08

Trevor Roberts recently gave a plenary presentation to the first Scottish Councillors Conference organised by the RTPI Politicians in Planning Association, held in Glasgow.

The conference was attended by councillors from all over Scotland. Trevor addressed them on "vision - the role of local councillors", drawing parallels between planning and malt whisky, and emphasising their need to stick up for a long term view, not always politically popular in these days of customer care and demands for quick results.

TRA provides a range of planning-related services in Scotland, including an extremely well-supported programme of inter-authority workshops for staff, and in-house training for Councillors which has been provided for around a dozen authorities.

Stewart joins NAPE Management Committee - 03/07/08

Stewart Glassar, TRA's Planning Manager, was recently selected as the representative for the South East Region on the NAPE Management Committee.

The purpose of NAPE, the National Association for Planning Enforcement,is to promote and enhance the role of planning enforcement within the planning profession. If you would like more information, including how to become a member, you can visit the NAPE section of the RTPI website.

If you based in the South East and would like to contact Stewart you can email him on stewart@tra-ltd.co.uk.

New management e-bulletin - 02/07/08

As trainers and consultants, we spend a great deal of our time working in local authorities and we see the many issues facing local government and the relationship between councils and central government. We are also acutely aware of the pressures on managers to:

  • improve performance, efficiency and customer relations
  • manage people and other resources
  • respond to political and economic pressures
  • recruit, develop and retain staff, and
  • manage constant change.

To try to help, we will be launching a new e-bulletin called Managing in Changing Times which will be directed at those involved in local government management (in any discipline). The bulletin will also be of benefit to others working in councils who are generally interested to know what's going on around them.

Within the bulletin, we will comment on topical issues and share some of the experience from our work in a straightforward and informative way. We would also very much welcome contributions and feedback from readers.

The bulletin will be circulated quarterly, beginning at the end of August 2008. If you would like to sign up to receive it, you just need to submit your email address via this online form.

Madingley news - 02/07/08

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.

Apologies that we haven't featured Madingley News for quite a while so here is a catch-up.

  • Lech Kocon from Stratford on Avon DC became a Technical Member of the RTPI in April. He was awarded the Enforcement Certificate in April 2007.
  • Christine James from North West Leicestershire DC has just finished her first year on the MSc course at Sheffield Hallam and is really enjoying it. Christine was awarded the Enforcement Certificate in 2004. She says "Madingley certainly gave me a good grounding for this course both in the written and oral presentations, so thank you for your support in getting me this far."
  • Marion Brown from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority had a baby boy, Henry, in January. He arrived 5 weeks early just as she was doing her third assignment for Madingley and we only received her work a few days late!
  • Beverley Kuchar moved to Hillingdon Council in April to take up the role of Senior DC Manager. Beverley has recently been awarded the Management Certificate which she completed while working for Elmbridge BC. She says "Needless to say, in this role I have been thinking a lot about TRA and am once more grateful for Trevor's help through the Madingley course".
  • Richard Purcell moved to Doncaster MBC in March to take up the newly created post of Head of Development Management. Richard gained the Management Certificate in 2006.
  • Nicola Stinson, now Planning Service Manager with Kerrier DC, returned to Madingley earlier this year to talk to current students. She outlined how she put the Certificate into action to transform the enforcement service in Kerrier. Nicola gained the Management Certificate in 2005.

Re-launch of Planning Administrator's Network - 30/06/08

The Planning Administrators' Network (PAN) is about to undergo a re-launch. Since its launch in November 2006, the Network has steadily grown and currently has 190 members from a wide range of local authorities across the UK. The Network is free to join and provides an interactive forum for discussion on a wide range of both administrative and technical issues/questions.

Although the Network has a large number of members, many of them are not particularly "active" and this is something we would like to encourage. Obviously members are free to contribute as and when they feel it is appropriate but we are very keen to promote the benefits of regular networking about subjects that affect us all on a day to day basis.

To that end, Chris Weetman, TRA's Senior Planning Consultant, is going to take on a co-ordinating role within the Network and will be spearheading its re-launch. Chris has been with TRA for 6 months. He was previously Head of Planning at St Helens Council and before that he was DC Manager at both St Helens and Wigan MBC. He has a background in development control and also has experience in the private sector. Chris will be the main contact for everything to do with PAN from now on and he can be contacted at chris@tra-ltd.co.uk.

Chris will be emailing all current members of PAN with a short questionnaire within the next two weeks. The purpose of the questionnaire is to get an idea of members' interests and their expectations of the Network so that we can develop discussion groups to better meet member's needs.

To join the Network, just visit the PAN website and register. Registration is free, quick and easy.

Springtime Enforcement Forum once again proves popular - 05/06/08

TRA's extra springtime 'Forum on Enforcement', introduced following high demand has once again been run successfully at the usual Warrington venue. Now in it's third year, this event (and the one traditionally run during the Autumn period) regularly attracts local authority staff involved in enforcement from all over the country and consistently receives positive feedback.

Some of the comments from participants attending this time include:

  • "Excellent as usual. Content and delivery pitched at exactly the right level" David Chong, Chester-le-Street District Council
  • "Met expectations, the usual high standard" Peter Willacy, Chorley Borough Council
  • "Very good event which covered a good range of topics. I like the combination of talks which covered broad issues and then more detailed enforcement related workshops."

This year's final speaker, John Jewers, an Investigator from the Ombudsman, gave the audience some key advice on "how not to see me ever again!" This included keeping complainants informed and not including conditions in a permission if the Council has no intention of enforcing them. In quite a few cases, the Ombudsman had found it necessary to recommend that an authority review the adequacy of its enforcement function - including the allocation of resources to satisfy itself that it is fit for purpose. This point in particular sparked a lively debate on the vicious circle that enforcement officers find themselves in in some authorities.

The next Forum is due to take place on Thursday 16 October 2008, with some places having been reserved already. Details of speakers and topics will be posted on our website some time during the Summer once they have been finalised, however places can be reserved now using our general booking form. Provisional bookings can be made by telephone on 01204 385678 or via the provisional bookings page on our website.

Contact Information

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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