We’ve had more than a week now to reflect on the LGA Conference, the biggest annual event for the sector we work in. This year I was helping the LGA media team with their coverage – as they were using Connect Social to stream the event – so I’ve asked Mathew and Dave, who were there on more official Public-i duty, to share their thoughts on the conference itself. First up is Dave, who has run through the day and then Matthew with a list of his conference highlights and lowlights…
I managed to get a press pass for LGA this year, which meant I was able to attend a lot of the delegate sessions and so wasn’t tied to the stand.
Monday was about driving to Manchester, setting the Public-i stand up and finding an agreeable place (curry) for us all to eat at.
Tuesday was about understanding the layout of the exhibitor hall, catching up with some old friends (I bumped into Joe Derrett, Head of Media at Lambeth, who I went to university with) and looking round the stands. The Rewiring Public Services and LEP sessions were good, as was the Solace drinks at Manchester Town Hall followed by a massive and very tasty burger from Solita Grill and a catch-up with our old friend Carl Haggerty.
Wednesday was spend mostly in the Exchange Hall listening to Vince Cable, Andy Burnham and Eric Pickles (who dare I say it I found the most stimulating due to his 5 minute Q&A session). Pickles gave us the most to talk about with his short but sweet reference to letting the public film council meetings which generated a lot of twitter activity at the time and which has given us lots to talk about on our blog. In between the Exchange hall I spent time in the innovation lounge listening to pitches from the likes of Matthew Skinner from FurtureGov and going to BBC’s “using social media to engage your communities” session delivered by Sophie Brendel and Neil McIntosh, which I found interesting with similar messages around social media to our own. After waiting to speak to them both following their session I was slightly disappointed that they didn’t share my enthusiasm for streaming council meetings, but you can’t please everybody. The drinks reception spilled out into a local pub with an eclectic bunch – some Liberal Democrat members, some exhibitors, colleagues and Glen Ocsko who was blogging and podcasting for WeLoveLocalGovernment before dinner with (among others) Catherine Howe, Anthony Zacharzewski and Carl Whistlecraft.
Thursday was an early start with a well attended East of England/Public-i Networked Councillor fringe session which followed good chats with Alison Hernandez from Torbay and Anthony Mckeown from High Peak. My final session was PCC’s working with local authorities which I found a little underwhelming – perhaps due to the afternoon slot on day 3. Then it was all about breaking down the stand and hanging around for Jeremy Hunt to finish so we could pack the webcasting encoder back into the van for the (long) trip back to Brighton.
All in all a good conference with lots to follow up on. Next year I will definitely be aiming for an access all areas pass again.
- Arrived at Manchester Central at 13:30 and thanks to helpful marshals, had unloaded the van by 14:00.
- The exhibition was seemingly much smaller than normal and with a much more varied and eclectic mix of exhibitors.
- BT, British Gas and Zurich just a few noticeable absentees.
- Public-i had roughly the same number of conversations with delegates as in previous years.
- The exhibition catering was excellent.
- The exhibition staff were very helpful and courteous.
- Unforgettable first visit to Manchester Town Hall – a unique magnificent homage to historical wealth of the city.
- Unforgettable performance by Soul Aces – their best yet.
- Easy get-away – exhibition closed at 15:00 and van was packed and ready to go by 16:00.
Conference highlights of the week:-
- It was really good to be webcasting the conference again.
- Eric Pickles’ speech on public filming of meetings – it’s a huge opportunity to emphasise the need to retain control over filming of meetings and to having a recording to refer back to.
- Our hotel was within walking distance and the restaurants were within walking distance too.
- Meeting and working with the East of England LGA on Networked Councillor.
Conference lowlights of the week:-
- Seemingly fewer delegates than years before.
- There was an air of resignation to the fact there will be more cuts – and also a sense that it will be a real challenge dealing with this, which was bound to have an effect on the conference.
- Eric Pickles bullying delegate who dared to be “cheeky”.