The Local Council Conference was held at the Burgess Hall, St Ives on Friday 17th November. There were 165 delegates in attendance from across the County representing 73 different parish and town councils split across the district. East Cambridgeshire 9 (22.5%); Fenland 6 (37.5%); Huntingdonshire 38 (32.5%); Peterborough 2 (17%) and South Cambs 30 (29%).
The speakers at the event were Jonathan Owen from the National Association of Local Council’s (NALC) gave a presentation on the future of local councils and the role of NALC in working towards national improvement. The presentation is available here. Chief Executive Gillian Beasley gave an address focusing on the work that has been carried out over the last year which has led to the launch of the Local Council Development Plan which is the first of its kind in Cambridgeshire. A copy of the Plan is available here. Councillor Steve Criswell from Cambridgeshire County Council spoke about how the application process for the Innovate and Cultivate Fund has been refreshed, making it easier to apply for smaller pots of funding by splitting the fund in two. Further information about the fund can be found here.
Conference Feedback showed that 85% of attendees rated the Conference overall as ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ and 81% of attendees rated the content of the Conference as ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’.
Comments from attendees included:
“Nice relaxed event with useful networking opportunities and appropriate, helpful context. Thank you”.
“Continue with these conferences – really useful for clerks and councillors. Thank you”.
“Consideration should be made to making this a full day event including lunch so that delegates can attend all of the workshop sessions”.
“Good range of exhibitors”
“Enjoyed variety of stalls”
Market Place Stalls
15 different companies or organisations were represented in the market place each offering different services which could be of help to local councils. Feedback from attendees on the range of stands was excellent.
There were a number of negative comments about the venue leading us to conclude that next year’s event will need to be held in a different location. The main points raised were:
- Poor screen quality in the main hall, the Powerpoint presentations were mostly unreadable for both the main speakers and the workshop presenters.
- Inadequate disabled access to the conference hall and to the upstairs rooms.
- The main hall and meeting rooms were cold.
- The refreshments were insufficient for such a long morning.
Four workshops were held during the morning covering the topics ‘Digital Transformation’, ‘Improving the Performance of Your Council’, ‘Involving Your Community’ and ‘Funding Projects’. All of the workshops were well attended and the feedback was very positive.
“I thought the digital presentation was fantastic and insightful”
“Excellent role-play highlighting problems.”
“As a result of the workshop I am hoping we will be able to run Parish Councillor Drop-in surgeries with an aspiration to include District & County Councillors in due course”.
“Good speakers who complimented each other well and engaged the audience”.
On the whole the conference was well received and appreciated by the majority of the delegates and is worth repeating. With regards to future events, consideration needs to be given to the venue in terms of size, location and facilities or whether to alter the format of the conference.
Thank you to all who attended and contributed on the day!