Conference showcases the entrepreneurial East
Conference showcases the entrepreneurial East

Local Authority leaders from across the East of England met at Duxford in Cambridgeshire on Friday (6th June), for a conference staged by the East of England Local Government Association on promoting cost savings and better services through enterprise and innovation.

The Entrepreneurial Council was organised in conjunction with Stepping Out, a specialist agency based in the region that helps councils to unleash the power of enterprise and alternative delivery models, spearheaded by Craig Dearden-Phillips MBE.

The event was staged by the East of England LGA so that representatives from Local Authorities could  hear from organisations and partnerships at the cutting edge of developing and implementing new approaches to delivering services, with the intention of stimulating ideas and creating a platform to develop thinking on transforming and divesting services locally.

Alongside Craig, who addressed delegates on how to turn public services into thriving social businesses and how to create a culture of enterprise within a Council, those gathered also heard from Danny Kruger, Chief Executive of Only Connect and former speechwriter to David Cameron, who spoke about the national picture and the current enthusiasm for different approaches to public services.

Suffolk County Council Assistant Director Strategic Finance and Head of Procurement Aidan Dunn also presented to delegates about the success they have had in Suffolk through using divestment as an option to improve their services.

Craig Dearden-Phillips said of the event and the challenges facing Local Authorities: “Public sector organisations are at a crossroads, they either stop providing certain services or, they find another way to deliver so the community continues to benefit. For any Council to continue to provide these services they need to explore all avenues open to them and this event will provide a perfect showcase to stimulate ideas and hear from those who have already made it happen and are reaping the benefits.”

Cecilia Tredget, Managing Director of the East of England LGA added: “Public services are under ever increasing pressure to improve while reducing costs. We at the East of England LGA are working hard to encourage innovation and new ways of working to help them face this challenge. 
“We believe that one approach to meeting that challenge can come from the enterprise of communities, third sector bodies, and council staff themselves, to find new and innovative ways of operating.” 

On the successes in Suffolk Aidan Dunn said: “We have a really good story to tell in Suffolk. Our objectives included being able to work in a more commercial manner; providing better services whilst saving money being at the forefront of what we were trying to do.

“In the last two years we have divested nine different services, all of which have proved a huge success and have helped us achieve our objectives. Businesses such as Concertus, Eastern Facilities Management Solutions (EFMS) and social enterprises such as Realise Futures are already reporting growth and better service provision.

Other speakers at the event include Gayle Monk from Anthony Collins LLP who addressed delegates on the legal situation including the Localism Act and procurement laws, and Sarah Stock from Independence Matters, the largest joint staff and council-owned community interest company in the country, which provides care and support services to more than 1,450 people across Norfolk.

We have a really good story to tell in Suffolk. Our objectives included being able to work in a more commercial manner; providing better services whilst saving money being at the forefront of what we were trying to do.

Aidan Dunn - Suffolk County Council