Spotlight on conference workshops

Posted on 18/10/2017 by Nicolay Sorensen.

Some more detail about the workshops at Governance of Complexity – #cfps2017

We know from your feedback that the workshops at the CfGS local government scrutiny conference are often the most popular part of the programme. In recognition, we have changed the format at this year’s event to have two workshop slots on a range of relevant and engaging topics. There will be a selection of workshops before lunch and they will be repeated after lunch, giving everyone a change to attend two topic sessions

This year we will also trial lunchtime networking sessions. These are topic based facilitated informal discussions during the lunch break. The sessions will be more role focus than topic orientated and so we are planning sessions for scrutiny chairs, women in scrutiny, scrutiny officers and a scrutiny clinic. They will be a voluntary drop in format and more details will be sent to delegates ahead of the conference.

We think long and hard about the topics for our workshops. They are just as important as the main speakers and so we are keen to hit the right notes.  They often reflect what we know to be pressing local government scrutiny issues or which relate directly to CfGS research and work areas. This year’s broad range of subjects will hopefully have a little bit of something for everyone.

This year’s topics are:

  • scrutiny and democracy
  • financial scrutiny and commercialisation
  • housing and resident engagement,
  • partnerships in health scrutiny
  • Skanska UK – Quality of Scrutiny programme

We are lucky to have secured a number of excellent facilitators and contributors for our workshops.  They include: Rachel Wall, De Montfort University, Rob Gershon, housing blogger and lead associate for the Housing Quality Residents’ Network, James Shrimpton, Skanska and speakers from Soha Housing, and we are hoping to confirm contributors from the LGA, CIPFA, Good Governance Institute and CfGS.

For more information about the workshops see below. To find out more about the conference and book your place visit here.

In What does good democracy and scrutiny look like? we will talk about what local democracy should be – what accountability means for local people and how we can rethink how we work in order to connect our work to the needs of residents. The workshop will reflect on councillors’ scrutiny role, and galvanise delegates with some concrete ideas of how to work together to make that role make sense in an increasingly complicated local landscape.

Quality of Scrutiny – lessons from Skanska UK is a new take on our conference workshops.  Skanska UK is a global construction company renowned for its value based approach to business. In 2016, they introduced a new Quality of Scrutiny programme aimed at improving the quality and quantity of scrutiny carried out at all stages of a project. As well as introducing new project gateways, the programme focused on scrutiny behaviours, skills and techniques with coaching and training aimed at the most senior leaders and now being rolled out UK-wide. CfGS has worked with Skanska on the development and delivery of the programme from the outset, including the use of the ‘Time to Think’ methodology.  This session will look at what lessons might be learnt from a large scale scrutiny programme being implemented in a private sector setting.

Keeping with our governance of complexity theme the Financial scrutiny and commercialisation – untangling the complexity workshop will be of interest to many members and officers. Councils are increasingly taking a more commercial approach to securing their balance sheets – investment in property and assets and a more entrepreneurial approach to trading. But where do the risks lie, and what does this mean for the scrutiny role – and local democracy? How can we ensure that we fully understand and act on the risks both of more assertively commercial approaches, when placed against the risk of financial unsustainability if we do nothing? This session will try to help delegates resolve some of these complicated questions.

Following the Grenfell Tower fire the issue of housing and tenant scrutiny has come to the fore. The Housing – where next for scrutiny and resident engagement? workshop will provide an opportunity to hear different perspectives on the issue of resident engagement including some examples of best practise. Delegates will be asked to explore how we can ensure our governance mechanisms are open to public scrutiny and how we can give assurance that voices are heard.

Ongoing NHS and health re-organisation means that health is very much a ‘live’ issue for many councils. Is health scrutiny supporting healthy partnerships? Will consider the key principles that support an effective partnership approach to health and care governance. In light of the development of Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships and Accountable Care Systems as the mechanisms for achieving the Five Year Forward View, how can local government best add value through its executive and scrutiny roles?


About the Author: Nicolay Sorensen

As Head of Communications, Nicolay oversees CfGS’s communications strategy, events, branding and media relations.