Sector-led improvement is gathering momentum. A lot has happened since the LGA published 'Taking the lead' in February 2011. Councils are embracing sector led improvement with real commitment – investing in political leadership; finding new ways of engaging local people and communities; inviting challenge from one's peers; sharing good practice and utilising comparative data as a driver for improvement.
I met with Kathryn Preece of the Better Regulation Delivery office last week to discuss how this works in the world of regulatory services. Many of you may be familiar with Kathryn from her own days in council regulatory services and more recently on the Leciester/Leicestershire LEP Better Business For All project.
You probably also know that there have always been small specialist groups of officers providing advice to LACORs, initially, and more recently to the LGA. Some have also moved to receive support from other organisations such as the new National Trading Standards Board or the Food Standards Agency where that is more appropriate.
These groups have a variety of aims and memberships, but all bring together experienced council officers to discuss the big issues in their specialism. They are run by councils for councils, although all will accept outside speakers from businesses and other stakeholders where an outside contribution is helpful.
The full list of groups that we are aware of can be found at: http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/brdo/docs/various/topic-groups-list.pdf
After the fairly substantial amount of shift in the last two years, BRDO and the LGA have decided to take stock of what is out there and try to raise their profile again following the changes. We are also considering, with the Forum Chairs, what support the LGA and BRDO can provide to strengthen their ability to share good practice, develop a consistent approach to particular issues, and influence government agendas and proposals.
For instance, the LGA Licensing Forum has produced a 'Best Practice Framework for Licensing Policies' - http://www.local.gov.uk/regulatory-services-and-licensing - to help councils incorporate the changes from the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act.
The Animal Health and Welfare Panel is attending government workshops to review the powers of entry available to officers and ensure a balance between protecting the right to privacy and the importance of protecting the public.
More specifically, the National Casino Forum is made up of all those authorities who were awarded the most recent set of casino licences, and exists to help members to develop proposals and issue the licences in a way that achieves maximum economic benefits.
Most of these groups have a presence on the knowledge hub and most will have a regional representative in your area.
Why not make contact and make sure you are aware of what is going on at a national level, and have a chance to shape it!