ENews Issue - 01 February 2010

ENews - January 2010

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.

In this issue:

  • Sorry it's late...
  • Book now and we can invoice in April
  • Under pressure to improve efficiency? TRA can help
  • Improve your negotiating skills and work more effectively
  • In-house training for planning appeals
  • Scottish workshops begin soon
  • Madingley News
  • New Councillor training roadshow - dates announced
  • Support staff bursaries awarded




Sorry it's late... - 01/02/10

Apologies for the late arrival of January's ENews, which was due to "technical difficulties".

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Book now and we can invoice in April - 31/01/10

Good news! If you want to reserve your place now on one of the earlier workshops in our inter-authority programmes but need the invoice to be raised in the new financial year then we can help you. We understand how it is with budgets and financial years and we don't want you to miss out on the training event of your choice just because the timing isn't quite right.

So why not take a look at some of the events running early on in our programmes for planning and development staff and see if anything grabs your attention:

  • England and Wales programme
  • Scotland programme
  • Planning Obligations and Agreements (England)

To ensure we invoice in April, please mark this clearly on your booking form or contact Shelagh Pooley to be doubly sure.

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Under pressure to improve efficiency? TRA can help - 28/01/10

It is clear that the current period of austerity in local government is going to continue for some time and like many other areas of local government, planning is feeling its effects profoundly and is increasingly under pressure to become more efficient.

At TRA, we have a multitude of suggestions to help you achieve greater efficiency and better value for money. Our unique and specialist interest in the way in which planning is managed and operated gives us a depth of knowledge in efficient ways of doing things. But unlike most other "business change consultants", this is matched by an awareness of effectiveness ie doing the right things, in a legally, professionally and procedurally correct manner. Having been in business for more than 25 years, we also have experience of previous recessions, and know that focusing your resources better goes a long way towards getting you through.

The consultancy support side of our business includes a number of services involving procedural, management and organisational review. At one end of the scale, this could be a short "diagnostic review" of your development management function aimed at identifying any particular areas of concern or any specific aspects where more detailed review could be most effectively focused. At the other end of the scale, we can undertake a full-scale review of development management procedures, organisation and management followed by the development of a bespoke Online Procedure Guide. And somewhere in between, we can also look at individual aspects of the planning function where you have already identified that improvements can be made, such as front-end processing, Committee procedures, enforcement etc.

Further information can be found on our website:

  • diagnostic reviews of development management
  • DC/DM procedure reviews and procedure guides
  • reviews of specific aspects of planning/DC/DM.

If you are interested in discussing the options for a review in your authority please contact Penny O'Shea to discuss your requirements, without obligation.

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Improve your negotiating skills and work more effectively - 27/01/10

The ability to negotiate effectively is an essential skill for planning practitioners and although many staff have practical experience of negotiation (with varying levels of success), only a few will have received any specific training in the concepts and skills involved. But when you combine it with experience, an understanding of the principles and techniques of negotiation can make a massive difference to your effectiveness on a daily basis.

Negotiation Concepts and Skills is the focus of the latest module on TRA's Certificated Course in Management Concepts and Skills in Planning, running in May and June 2010. Please note that this module can also be taken by students on the Certificated Course in Planning Enforcement. There are a few places available on this module but since attendance is strictly limited to 12, early booking is encouraged. Provisional bookings are recommended if you cannot make a confirmed booking straight away.

Remember that you don't have to be aiming for the full certificate to attend individual modules; we are happy to have people attend modules on a one-off basis. So if you want to work on your negotiation skills but don't want to, or aren't able to, attend any of the other modules, that is not a problem.

Aspects of negotiation covered in the module include:

  • the context of negotiation: time factors, information, the planning organisation
  • the concept of commitment in negotiation
  • when not to negotiate
  • different approaches to negotiation (win/win, win/lose etc)
  • techniques associated with different types of negotiation
  • typical negotiation "gambits" in the planning field
  • power relationships and their implications
  • the personality dimension and its uses and limitations.

The Course Tutor is Chris Weetman, who was previously Development Services Manager at St Helens Council and has a post-graduate management diploma. Further details of the module, including a leaflet/booking form can be found on our website. You can also contact Shelagh Pooley if you need any more information or if you would like to reserve a place, provisionally or otherwise.

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In-house training for planning appeals - 25/01/10

TRA offers a range of workshops for officers involved in planning appeals, including an introduction to appeals in general and more in-depth sessions relating to the individual methods of appeal eg Public Inquiries.

Workshops can be organised for individual authorities or jointly for a group of neighbouring authorities. Shared training is an increasingy popular option with our clients as authorities are encouraged by government to share services/resources and as many face restrictions on training budgets.

The workshops available are:

  • An Introduction to the Appeals Process which provides an introduction to the fundamental elements of the planning appeal system: they key differences between the three appeal methods; how you can get the best out of each one; what Inspectors are looking for; where the Courts come in; and when costs get awarded.

  • Preparing Committee Reports and Appeal Statements: how to be both effective and efficient which takes a very practical look at the preparation of Committee reports and simple appeal statements. (For the vast majority of small-scale appeals handled by written reps, the Committee report may be all that is needed to defend the Council's position.) The workshop provides advice on covering all the issues and the need to be succinct; what to put in and what to leave out; and what Councillors and Inspectors are looking for in reports and statements.
  • Appearing at Hearings which includes a mock Hearing exercise and is designed to improve both preparation and presentational skills and enhance participants' overall confidence when facing this process. With around a fifth of appeals handled by this method it is essential for all DM officers to be familiar with the style and format of Hearings.

  • Appearing at Public Inquiries (2-day) which is appropriate for any officer who wishes to learn, practice or sharpen the skills involved in appearing at a Public Inquiry. It aims to improve presentation, witness and advocacy skills; clarify the roles of different participants at the Inquiry; equip participants with a clear understanding of Inquiry procedures; and enhance good practice. A crucial part of the workshop is a cameo inquiry exercise running on Day 2.

If you would like further information on any of these workshops or to discuss your training requirements, please contact Angela Holmes.

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Scottish workshops begin soon - 25/01/10

With only eight weeks to go until the start of TRA's 2010 training programme in Scotland, there's no time to waste if you are planning to attend one (or maybe more...) of our workshops.

A full run-down of the programme is available on our website but to whet your appetite, here are the topics being covered in the first few events:

  • Advertisement Control - 25 March, Glasgow
  • Negotiation Skills: the key to achieving planning goals and objectives - 25 March, Glasgow
  • Conditions, Planning Agreements and Planning Gain - 20 April, Edinburgh
  • Supporting the Development Management Function: a workshop for experienced technical and administrative staff - 20 April, Edinburgh.

If invoicing before the start of the new financial year is a problem, then don't worry, we can invoice in April - see the other article in this issue.

Leaflets/booking forms and other details can be downloaded via the links above and provisional bookings (strongly recommended) can be made using the provisional bookings facility on our website or by contacting Shelagh Pooley.

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Madingley News - 23/01/10

This section of ENews is a way for people who have taken part in TRA's 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 Natalie Banks from Braintree District Council who was awarded her MSc in Town Planning from Anglia Ruskin University at the end of last year. Natalie was awarded the Certificate in Planning Enforcement in 2004 and is now a Senior Planning Officer. Looking back at the certificated course, Natalie says, I will always maintain that the courses I did with you at Madingley were the best and most practically useful I have ever been on. They prepared me for getting back into the swing of studying and raised my confidence in presenting ideas to a group of people and working as a team. I owe you all a huge debt!

Congratulations also to Liz Humby and Richard Aston, both certificate holders from the management programme, who got married recently. Liz is Principal Planning Officer with East Herts DC and Richard is Principal DC Officer at Welwyn Hatfield DC.

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New Councillor training roadshow - dates announced - 21/01/10

We announced in last month's ENews that two of our most popular workshops for Councillors involved in planning will be going "on tour" shortly after the 2010 local elections. Although the timing will make them particularly attractive to new members of Committee, attendance is by no means restricted and any Councillor with an involvement in planning can attend.

These workshops are normally only delivered on an in-house basis for individual authorities, so this roadshow represents an ideal opportunity for:

  • authorities where only a few Councillors currently need training
  • authorities wanting to "test-run" a workshop with a view to possibly running them in-house at a later stage
  • Councillors who may have missed out on in-house training for any reason
  • Councillors who want to meet colleagues from other authorities.

Dates have now been confirmed and all the details, including leaflets/booking forms are available on our website.

We expect these workshops to be particularly popular and the number of places is limited so early booking is recommended. Provisonal bookings can be made by telephone or online via our provisional bookings facility.

If you are looking to train a larger number of Councillors, perhaps the whole Committee, then in-house training is likely to be a much more cost-effective option for you. Further information is available on our website or you can contact Angela Holmes to discuss your requirements.

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Support staff bursaries awarded - 15/01/10

The deadline for applications for TRA's training bursaries for planning support staff has now passed. We had lots of good quality applications and it was a difficult task to choose the deserving 'winners' but the places have now been awarded. We look forward to receiving feedback from the participants once they've attended their events and we will include some of their comments in future issues of ENews.

TRA has always recognised the crucial role played by planning support staff and from speaking to many of our clients, it seems that planning support staff in particular are suffering from the current squeeze on training budgets. Through this scheme we have been able to provide access to training opportunities which might not have otherwise been available. Well done to those who secured themselves a place on their chosen TRA event!



If you didn't apply but are interested to see what TRA has on offer for planning support staff you can check out our website for information on in-house training and/or inter-authority workshops/conferences (England/Wales) (Scotland).

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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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