Friday 6 February marks day two of Year Ahead 2015 and what a conference it’s been. Journalist and broadcaster Cathy Newman’s facilitating style was refreshingly relentless as she held politicians to task when they offered non-answers and a change of subject to her query: After the elections will you cut trading standards?
Thursday’s plenary wound a curious road as conversations about politics moved to an unexpected proclamation of disregard for a certain retailer and then a demand to know what the Food Standards Agency (FSA) thought of recent Citizens Advice data suggestion consumer detriment is on the rise.
TSI CEO Leon Livermore and self-proclaimed ‘austerity keynote speaker’, challenged Year Ahead attendees to develop a vision for what they want, how they want their authorities to operate and how they want to lead staff.
“Austerity has us thinking in one year blocks,” Livermore said. “That’s not a vision. That’s survival.”
Livermore also suggested the profession start 2015 focusing on the 90% of issues it agrees on rather than the 10% it doesn’t. Also on Livermore’s agenda – encouraging all trading standards professionals to be the No. 1 advocate for the profession, learn shared best practices and manage talent.
“The reason we’re known as the hidden gems in local government is that we’re quiet,” Livermore said.
Plenary demographics underscored Livermore’s point that the profession must start singing its own praises. Aside from political plenary speakers, only two politicians sat among the audience.
Several times the issue of having a trading standards minister was raised. Whether that will actually ever occur is a conversation for a different time.
In a workshop review of the political plenary, some attendees suggested participating politicians offered no answers. Others expressed disappointment at the general lack of knowledge of trading standards.
The afternoon session put business and regulators around the same coffee table to chat about delivery of service. A more detailed roundup of Year Ahead events will be available in the next issues of TS Today.
Follow today’s conversation on #YearAheadConf