Category Archives: Assets

Services in a time of change

Welsh Purchasing Consortium

How can organisations plan for the future in a time of change? Dyfrig Williams looks at the work of the Welsh Purchasing Consortium and how they’re implementing a flexible cloud based software solution.

Reforming local government is a hot topic here in Wales. Whilst there were lots of interesting messages in the Williams Commission report, it was the call for fewer councils that made all the headlines.

In this environment of impending change, it’s important that councils continue to focus on their day to day work, whilst also keeping one eye on what the future holds. It would be far too easy to stay in a period of stasis whilst awaiting re-organisation.

It was really timely and interesting to hear then how the Welsh Purchasing Consortium has implemented a Public Protection Software Framework to improve collaboration and efficiency across Welsh councils.

The expense of bringing existing systems together meant that they procured a new system that has the potential to cover the whole of Wales. This means that the approach can be adapted when any mergers take place, whilst also making it easier to interrogate data on a national basis. Nineteen councils expressed an interest in taking part, so they plumped for a cloud based system. If you’re unfamiliar with cloud computing, you can watch Evan Jones outline the advantages of it in the below video from our Information Technology Webinar.

This Cloud solution will save server costs, and also release IT resources at individual councils. There is also more flexibility in the system, as it can be accessed on any device with a web browser.

If you’d like to learn more, you can find a case study on the work on our website. Obviously the nature of work changes from council to council and from service to service, but there are a lot of interesting things to learn from this work that could be adapted to suit your needs.

Meddalwedd Gwybodaeth Raffigol a Chydweithio

Yn ein blog diweddaraf o Wobrau Cymuned Gwelliant Parhaus Cymru Gyfan 2014, dyma Kevin Williams o Gyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Castell-nedd Port Talbot yn disgrifio ei Feddalwedd Gwybodaeth Raffigol a’r pwysigrwydd o gydweithio.

Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Castell Nedd Port TalbotMae staff ein hisadran TGCh, mewn cydweithrediad â swyddogion cyfatebol Dinas a Sir Abertawe, wedi ennill gwobr o fri yn ddiweddar gan y Gymdeithas Gwybodaeth Ddaearyddol, ac mae hon yn wobr ar gyfer sector cyhoeddus y DU gyfan.

Pan benderfynodd yr isadran TGCh gyfnewid ei Feddalwedd Gwybodaeth Raffigol ddrudfawr am ddewis amgen cost-isel, swyddogaethau medrus ffynhonnell agored, roedd nod y tîm yn syml; cynyddu’r graddau yr oedd GIS ar gael i staff a’n dinasyddion am lai o gost. O ganlyniad i’r manteision yr oedd y prosiect hwn wedi’u sicrhau, roedd awdurdodau cyfagos yn dangos llawer iawn o ddiddordeb gan gynnwys Abertawe, Sir Gaerfyrddin, Sir Benfro a Cheredigion. Arweiniodd hyn at brosiect rhanbarthol a oedd â’r dasg o nodi meysydd lle byddai cydweithredu trawsffiniol yn fanteisiol o ran nodi a chyflawni arbedion effeithlonrwydd, cynyddu’r defnydd o GIS a gwelliannau i’r gwasanaeth. Ariannwyd y prosiect hwn yn rhannol gan y rhaglen ranbarthol bresennol ac roedd yn gweithredu ac yn cael ei lywodraethu gan Fwrdd Cydwasanaethau TGCh Canol a De-orllewin Cymru.

Daeth canfyddiadau cynnar i’r casgliad bod pob awdurdod lleol yn bwrw iddi â’r un tasgau ond mewn ffyrdd ychydig yn wahanol, ac nid yw GIS yn eithriad i’r rheol hon. Pan ffurfiodd y grŵp gyntaf, daeth yn amlwg bod gan bob awdurdod atebion GIS gwahanol ond roedd gan bawb yr un broblem. Sut oedd ehangu eu systemau heb fod yn gaeth i werthwr masnachol gyda chostau cynyddol?

Ar ôl cwblhau’r prosiect, mae’n amlwg nad yw’r manteision a wireddwyd wedi’u cyfyngu i’r arbedion ar ffioedd trwyddedu a’r broses o ddiddymu cytundebau cynnal a chadw. Serch hynny, mae’r arbedion a amcangyfrifwyd yn hanner miliwn o bunnau dros gyfnod o bum mlynedd ac felly maen nhw’n sylweddol, ond drwy fabwysiadu ateb FfynhonellAgored yn ein hawdurdodau, mae’r defnydd o GIS yn ddiderfyn erbyn hyn. Gall symud cyfyngiadau ariannol rymuso unrhyw un i gael mynediad at ddata mewn dull gofodol, gan sicrhau y gellir gwneud penderfyniadau gwybodus yn gynt gan yn y pen draw wella gwasanaethau cwsmeriaid.

Mae cydweithredu ar y prosiect hwn wedi helpu i greu cysylltiadau gwaith newydd ac wedi helpu i chwalu’r ffiniau mwn perthynas â chreu cydwasanaethau rhwng awdurdodau lleol. Y gwaith hwn oedd wedi gwneud argraff ar y pwyllgor gwobrwyo, a arweiniodd at gydnabod arloesedd a gweithio traws-sector. Mae Kevin Williams, a fu’n arwain y prosiect ar gyfer Castell-nedd Port Talbot wedi’i wahodd, erbyn hyn, i ymuno â phanel AGI Cymru, gan gynrychioli GIS FfynhonellAgored.

Collaborative Graphical Information Software

In our latest blog from the All Wales Continuous Improvement Community Annual Awards 2014, Kevin Williams from Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council tells us about their Graphical Information Software and the importance of collaboration.

NPTCBCStaff from our ICT Division, in conjunction with counterparts from the City & County of Swansea, have recently picked up a prestigious award from the Association of Geographic Information, an award contested across the whole of the UK Public Sector.

When the ICT Division decided to replace its high-cost proprietary Graphical Information Software (GIS) with a low-cost, high functionality open source alternative, the team’s aim was simple; to increase the availability of GIS to staff and our citizens for less cost. As a result of the benefits this project delivered, a great deal of interest was shown by neighbouring authorities including Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion. This resulted in a regional project tasked with identifying areas where cross-boundary collaboration would prove advantageous in identifying and delivering efficiency savings, increasing GIS usage and service improvements. This project was part funded by the existing regional programme and operated under the governance of the Central and South West Wales Shared ICT Services Board.

Early findings concluded that each local authority goes about the same tasks but nearly always in a slightly different manner, with GIS proving no exception to this rule. When the group first formed, it became apparent that each authority had differing proprietary GIS solutions but all had the same problem. How to expand their systems without being tied to a commercial vendor with ever increasing costs?

Having concluded the project, it is clear that the benefits realised are not restricted to the savings on licence fees and the elimination of maintenance agreements, although at half a million pounds over five years these estimated savings are substantial, but that by adopting the OpenSource solution within our authorities, GIS usage is now limitless. Removing the financial constraints can empower anyone to access their data in a spatial manner, enabling quicker and more informed decision making and ultimately improving council services.

Working collaboratively on this project has also helped forge new working relationships and assisted in breaking down the boundaries regarding creating shared services between local authorities. It was this work that the awards committee were so taken with, which resulted in the recognition of innovation and cross sector working. Kevin Williams, who led the project for NPT, has now been invited to sit on the panel of AGI Cymru, representing the OpenSource GIS.

Transferring assets to the voluntary sector

At the Good Practice Exchange we try to ensure that events we’ve held aren’t the end point for any topic we work on. We try and share ideas, resources and perspectives to hopefully start some conversations and encourage people to identify opportunities to improve their work.

We didn’t have long to wait before the first piece of practice was shared on Twitter during our Making Better Use of Public Assets seminar, as the Communities First Advice and Support Service got in touch to let us know about some interesting work that’s taken place in Cardiff to help a community organisation to take over an asset.

I was keen to learn more about it as it fitted neatly with Richard Davies’ workshop, which looked at the support needed by voluntary and community organisations to ensure a successful transfer. I spoke to Gareth Kiddie, who worked as a consultant to an asset transfer in Pentrebane, and Michelle Powell of ACE (Action in Caerau and Ely) who supported the process.

At the seminar Richard spoke about many of the challenges facing community organisations, with capacity being a key issue. Community organisations rely on volunteers, so it’s no surprise that Gareth said that the Competitive Tender process was a barrier to asset transfer, rather than an enabler. Gareth instead suggested supporting the organisation from an early stage so that they have access to the right knowledge and expertise and a real opportunity for success.

Gareth also highlighted the issue of capacity in a different sense, in that TUPE was also an issue for community organisations. Small voluntary organisations are not normally in a position to offer the same terms for staff as the public sector. Again, working with the community organisation at an early stage helped them to overcome this.

Richard Davies of GAVO / Richard Davies o GAVO

Richard Davies of GAVO

In my phonecall with Michelle, she mentioned the importance of flexibility to the process. The building was going to close imminently, but an expression of interest to the council meant that the organisation was given a license to occupy. This license gave Action in Caerau and Ely an opportunity to work alongside the organisation. This meant that they were able to build up a series of activities, which in turn helped them to put a business plan together and better forecast costs.

Michelle also mentioned how continual communication between the council and the community organisation was vital as both organisations knew where they stood. Communication has improved since the council appointed a dedicated officer, which will aid the process in the future. It’s also great that a Stepping Up Toolkit for developing and managing services and assets has been put together. I think the language used in the toolkit is great – it’s easy to get to grips with, which is a massive help as the process itself can be complex.

Public sector organisations are going to be under financial pressure for some time to come, so it’s likely that more assets will be transferred to voluntary and community organisations. It’s vital then that we learn lessons from each other’s approaches, so that we can ensure the best possible use of these assets for communities around Wales.

Dyfrig

Improving Your Space

Buildings Management Seminar

The theme of our shared learning seminars over the last year has been assets, and we’ve been working with the National Assets Working Group to share good practice between people who are working in the field of asset management.

A couple of the projects that we’ve been able to showcase have been funded by the Invest to Save Fund, which provides short-term funding to help public service organisations transform the way that they work. These have included the assets review that Carmarthenshire County Council have undertaken, which Jonathan Fearn spoke about at the Land and Asset Transfer Shared Learning Seminar. His presentation is available on our website and you can also see him discuss it in the below video from the seminar.

There are a range of Invest to Save case studies available on the Welsh Government website, including an interesting project from Bridgend County Borough Council, where they’ve rationalised their accommodation.

One of the interesting aspects of the case study is that although the rationalisation is about saving money as the funding dictates, it’s also about improving how the service is delivered. The approach has brought together services from a few different sites and made it much easier for different departments to work together.

Not only that, but by moving the building into the town centre it’s made use of a previously empty building to help regenerate the town centre. And by moving into the town centre, the council has been able to make the building a hub for the community as its customer contact centre there.
If this has started to get you thinking about the rationalising of buildings, it’s also worth having a look at the details of Antony Wallis’ workshop at our Buildings Shared Learning Seminar, where we heard about how of Natural Resources Wales is looking at its present and future needs as the offices of the Countryside Council for Wales, the Environment Agency and Forestry Commission Wales.

The striking thing about each of these projects is that they focus on the service’s role in enabling public services to deliver more, rather than navel-gazing at their own functions. It’s great to see how Bridgend County Borough Council have not just saved public money, but also improved service provision for the people of their county.

Dyfrig

Asset Transfer: What we can learn from Birmingham City Council

Land and Asset Transfer

When we’re looking for examples to share at our Good Practice Exchange events, we often come across some fantastic examples that we’d love to share, but that the potential speaker can’t make due to a clash in their diary. This happened when we were organising the Land and Asset Transfer Shared Learning Events, when we heard about some interesting work by Birmingham City Council.

The project has now come to an end, but it’s great to read in their blog that the approach has led to a consistent approach to asset transfer in Birmingham for all voluntary and community groups.

There are lots of really useful resources on the website, including a tool that aims to capture the social value of the transferral of an asset to the community, which is used to calculate a rent rebate for leases agreed under the Council’s Community Asset Transfer Protocol. You can also find the guidance here.

Llun o set Flickr Trsoglwyddo Asedau Cymunedol / Picture from Community Asset Transfer Flickr Set

Llun gan @podnosh o set Flickr Trsoglwyddo Asedau Cymunedol / Picture by @podnosh from the Community Asset Transfer Flickr Set

When an asset is transferred, it’s important that the arrangement is suitable for both parties. At the seminar we heard how some Town and Community Councils are being asked to take on assets, and how the right financial conditions need to be in place to ensure that the transfer is successful. It’s great then that in this case, the initial document agreed by both parties is appended to the lease and is the basis for its reviews.

It’s also important that organisations bear in mind the social value of an asset. I think it’s fantastic that community participation is part of the Proposed Activities and Use Assessment, because after the ink has dried on the deal, the community will play a massive part in whether it’s successful.

Working across organisational boundaries also fits in under the Agency Service Usage section, which measures the use of the building by other agencies. In this case, the tool works on the basis of a flat rate of £10 for every meter square of space rented by the organisation.

Many aspects of the toolkit could be adapted for use in Wales too. Here, the Communities First programme is based on the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation, and it’s interesting to see how this toolkit scores the location based on whether the asset is based in deprived wards according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation.

So all in all this toolkit provides a lot of food for thought, and if you have used it, are looking to use it or might adapt it, we’d love to hear from you. You can also watch an analysis of the approach to Community Asset Transfer in the area at Birmingham City Council Webcasting.

Dyfrig

Webinars and cloud: breaking new ground

Effective use of Information Technology

The Effective use of Information Technology seminar was the first event that I directly worked on for the Good Practice Exchange, but it wasn’t just a first for me – it was the first time that a seminar had left us with as many questions as answers. The cloud session had provided an interesting starting point for organisations that were looking to work differently, but practically how were they going to get through the red tape to this brave new world?

As anyone who runs events know, they can be an expensive business. We’d already run events in both North and South Wales, and we wanted to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to have their questions answered.

As the session would be looking at cloud computing, a more specific topic than our IT seminar, it wouldn’t run for as long. We plumped for a webinar, which fit nicely with the topic, as it was a cloud based platform. This was new ground for everyone involved, but equally an exciting prospect for us all.

As this webinar was a pilot we kept it small scale with 20 attendees. The presentations themselves were great, with Evan Jones of the Welsh Government breaking down the issues of Cloud Computing, and Peter Middleton of the Cabinet Office talking about the merits of the G-Cloud. One of the benefits of the platform we plumped for was that we were left with a video of the webinar, which you can view above and below.

We were also given an audio of the webinar, which we used to breakdown the question into bite-sized podcasts on Audioboo, so that people can quickly navigate to the issues that affect them.

Unsurprisingly for a pilot, the whole thing didn’t go without a hitch and gave us a few things to mull over. Having multiple laptops in the same room also meant multiple microphones, which in turn meant an echo of the sound for the first half a minute of the webinar. In retrospect we could have avoided this had the presenters and facilitator been in separate rooms.

In future there are also elements that we would like to expand upon. We felt it best not to bite off more than we could chew on our first go, but we would definitely like to encourage interaction on social media so that we could reach more participants and solve wider issues. The question and answer session meant we could directly address people’s concerns, so it would be great to elaborate on that potential by using a hashtag.

All in all the webinar has given us much to think about. It didn’t give the same potential to network, share ideas and solutions as the seminars do, but it did allow us to look at a topic in depth at participants’ convenience. It isn’t a solution for all ills, but it is another tool that we can use that can hopefully help us to share knowledge and improve Welsh public services.

Dyfrig

Don’t buy hardware

Effective use of Information Technology

We all love it.  Hardware has flashing lights, cool lines, and looks really good in racks, humming away.  It impresses strangers; validates us as experts.   It’s also wildly expensive and fantastically underused.  Google (yes, that Google) discovered on the early 2000’s that their data centres were running at 10% of their potential maximum.  Much of the UK public sector is a lot worse with the Cabinet Office suggesting that some of us get as little as 5% utilisation of our most expensive assets.

Ask any IT Head why they spend gazillions on hardware and they’ll say “well, it won’t work without it”, or if the IT Head has an MBA he’ll say “the hardware is central to our mission”. Which raises an interesting question – why do we feel it necessary to buy the means of production for computing when we have no qualms at all about buying-in electricity, or water for that matter?

Back in September over 60 IT specialists, and me, met at WAO seminars in both North and South Wales to share good practice (viz, ‘nick ideas’) and, hopefully, have their preconceptions challenged. I like a good challenge to my preconceptions and the scepticism around Cloud Computing was not so much challenging my preconceptions as mugging them.

Cloud Computing / Cyfrifiadura Cwmwl

There were a lot of reasons why not to adopt Cloud. There’s security.  Everyone will have access to your data. There’s regulation, the Americans will arrest your Chief Executive……. and, well, there’s no flashing lights are there? None of this is necessarily true.  Of course you can mess up security on the cloud in the same way you can leave your own security in a hash if you try, but there’s no real reason why you should, particularly.

I like easy computing. I like to provide a service that just works.  I don’t want to run a datacentre any more than I want to run a power station or manage a reservoir. For me, Cloud Computing offers a chance to buy just as much as I want, when I want it. Period, as the Americans say.  No more capacity than I need.

This isn’t easy for us as a profession. We tend to think of IT as being an exercise in hardware management, rather than service to customers.

Here’s a thought exercise. Imagine your Chief Executive has banned the purchase of anything physical at all. Server provision is easy to purchase through the cloud (and really easy for the public sector through g-cloud), connectivity and firewalls – tick, software as a service – tick, end user devices? More problematic but a good BYOD strategy should see to that. In fact, if you’ve got decent mobile signal coverage (and you can even get around that) you don’t need the building network either.

Of course, little in life is simple, and that isn’t exactly simple either. But it’s worth considering, how much will it cost me if I don’t buy this upgrade but buy it as an on-line service?

It costs a lot to keep all of those servers warm, fed, stroked, and loved.  It might sound like heresy but could you do better, cheaper, with fewer commitments if you bought the service through the cloud?

Not that I’m mildly obsessed, or anything, but on 13 December I’ll be discussing cloud computing: the myths, busted, with Peter Middleton from the Cabinet Office’s g-cloud programme. 2013 has been a pivotal year for public service, a pivotal year in recognising that we cannot continue to deliver under the current model.  We need to be smarter, more collaborative, cheaper, simply better at what we do. Time to ditch some myths.

– Evan Jones, Welsh Government

The Rule of 1%. Why it matters to your online community.

Effective use of Information Technology

Llun o Victor Meldrew o wefan y BBC / Picture of Victor Meldrew from the BBC website

Llun o Victor Meldrew o wefan y BBC / Picture of Victor Meldrew from the BBC website

I have to be careful here and try to avoid sounding like a curmudgeon.

A few words of caution for anyone about to launch an online community;

Beware!

  • Most people will not participate (even if they say they will),
  • Many of those that participate initially, will stop after a few months (weeks probably),
  • You will be left with a core of ‘die hard’ enthusiasts (talking to each other), and
  • An (increasingly disillusioned) ‘community facilitator’ working at
    full stretch to keep the community alive.

Sorry if that sounds very negative, but it is a fair reflection of the reality in some of the online communities I’ve experienced It’s also part of the 1% rule of Internet culture.

The 1% rule or the 90–9–1 principle is a hypothesis that more people will lurk in a virtual community than will participate. It’s been around since the mid 2000’s and has been likened to the 80/20 rule (Pareto principle), where 20% of a group will deliver 80% of the activity.

For online communities the 1% rule states:

  • 1% of people will actually create content;
  • 9% of people edit, modify or comment on that content; and
  • 90% of people will view the content without contributing.

Based upon my experience this feels about right and seems to be a very plausible hypothesis. It could also apply to some of the offline physical communities I’ve also experienced.

I appreciate that this sounds awful. Why would anyone bother with an online community with participation rates like that?

Well, there are many positives that can come from an online community, and some have much higher participation rates than 1% (it is after all an average figure from across the internet).

The good news is that you can boost your participation rates, and there are lots of helpful resources (many of them online) which will help you achieve this.

One of the key activities I would suggest is to ask why? Why do we need this online community?

To answer this question it is worth thinking about why people would participate in an online community, and designing the community to meet these needs. Lots of the online advice suggests six main reasons for participation. If you can provide an answer that is specific to your potential community members, you are probably heading in the right direction. Just ask, “will our online community satisfy members need for?”

  1. Anticipated reciprocity (you will get something in return),
  2. Reputation (it will make you look good),
  3. A sense of achievement,
  4. Altruism (doing good for others),
  5. A sense of belonging (the community provides this), and
  6. Emotional connection.

One of the key messages in much of the advice about online communities is that participation rates will decline after an initial peak. The secret to keeping the community alive is about making sure that activity bounces back to a sustainable level that makes it worth the investment, again, lots of advice about this online.

Finally, I did hear of an example a successful online community that had 1,700 members, discussing the finer details performance management. This community was held up as an example of success and ‘how things could be’. When I asked the Community Manager what was the secret of success they said, “the hard core of about 20 people who are always online, posting questions and commenting on what others have to say”.

I wasn’t aware of the rule of 1% at the time, but 20 active people in a community of 1700 feels quite close to the rule of 1% to me (1.2% actually).

3 things I’ve learnt:

  • Online communities are not ‘resource free’. In most cases somebody needs to facilitate the community and help to keep things ‘ticking over’.
  • Most people in online communities do not actively participate. The rule of 1% probably applies, even to your online community.
  • There will be an initial burst of activity when the community is formed. This will drop off over time. Unless something is done to invigorate the community, there is a danger it could become dormant.

This post is based upon two posts that were written on my personal blog in May and June 2012. http://whatsthepont.com/  Links below:

http://whatsthepont.com/2012/05/17/the-rule-of-1-is-dead-well-not-quite-round-these-parts/

http://whatsthepont.com/2012/06/26/getting-beyond-the-1-rule-intrinsic-motivation-and-online-communities/

Chris

What does Corporate Manslaughter have to do with me?

Guest blog by Philip Jones, Capital Law LLP.

In my profession as a litigation and disputes lawyer, a lot of my work involves damage limitation. All too often my phone rings when a problem has become critical where intensive (and often expensive) action is required to resolve it. In many cases however, there are identifiable steps that could (or indeed should) have been taken at an earlier stage, which would have avoided or limited the damage that has been caused.

It is of course very easy for me to share these words of wisdom with my clients whilst wistfully shaking my head in admonition as I clean up the mess. It is a sad fact of life that things can and do go wrong and even with the best will in the world there will always be matters that cannot be avoided. The real frustration arises where the opposite is true and where we could have helped if only someone had asked.

With these thoughts in mind I need to say a big thank you to the Wales Audit Office for asking me and my colleagues Mark Littlejohns and Donna Merrick to present to the plenary session of its Fleet Management Shared Learning Seminar that took place to a packed audience at Cathedral Road in Cardiff on 9th October 2013. It was a real opportunity for us to be involved in sharing our knowledge before things go wrong rather than when its too late.

I must confess that as I arrived and saw the details of the training sessions that were to follow our presentation I hoped that we wouldn’t send too many people to sleep with the “boring legal stuff”! With driving simulators and cutting edge practical guidance abounding, I had my doubts!

Following the Auditor General’s very kind introduction and with notes in hand I stood at the lectern took a deep breath and…well, if you were there you know the rest.

For those of you who couldn’t make it and are reading this blog I wouldn’t want you to miss out too much. The topic I chose was the Corporate Manslaughter Act – Five Years On.  Whilst I don’t propose to repeat the whole text or the rather questionable acting of myself and my colleagues in the role-play section (no Welsh BAFTA’s for us!) I have given some thought to the key messages that I hope that those in attendance took with them after we had finished.

It really doesn’t seem like five years since the Act came into force. To us lawyers it was a fresh approach to what had seemed to be an insoluble problem of apportioning blame and responsibility to companies and organisations for deaths that had arisen from gross failings in managing their affairs in a safe manner.

Prior to the Act, it had always been difficult to allocate responsibility unless it could be shown that there had been a “controlling mind” at the root cause. Whilst consistent with the way the law had been approached historically it meant that larger organisations with many layers of management escaped prosecution because you could not show where the “buck stopped”.

Capital Law yn y seminar fflyd / Capital Law in the fleet management seminar

The Act turned this approach on its head and rather than concentrating on what had happened it asked the question why had it been allowed to happen. In other words it imposed a duty on the management to ensure that it had policies and procedures in place that aimed to prevent work related fatalities – a classic prevention rather than cure situation.

As with any new legislation those responsible for enforcing the Act have carefully considered the new powers and have so far only prosecuted a few cases. However do not let this deceive you as the signs are that the level of investigations under the Act and the likely prosecutions are increasing year on year on and rather than being a rarity the likelihood is that we will see a gradual and relentless increase.

With this in mind the key message is do not be complacent. It is the nature of life that just when you don’t expect it, things will go wrong. There is no magic potion that will stop that. All you can do is to make sure that you have done as much as you can to prevent such tragedies because if the unthinkable happens, your organisation (public or private) will be put under the microscope and if management of risk comes up short do not expect any easy ride.

There are plenty of sources of advice and seminars such as the Wales Audit Office have organised are invaluable. With such guidance and with a rigorous and vigilant approach you should be ok.

My final comment is obvious. Look at the procedures not just from a compliance viewpoint but also from the other end of the spectrum. This is not about ticking boxes but about saving lives and you can and will make a real difference to a safer working environment.

Enough from me – I have some lines to learn for the Wales Audit Office North Wales Fleet Management Seminar in Llanrwst on 9th January 2014 – with a little luck we still have an outside chance of that BAFTA!

Philip Jones

Capital Law LLP