Initial feedback from the Stoneleigh Conference was very good. Numbers were down a little on previous spring conferences (141 delegates, this year) but probably not surprising in the current economic environment.

The morning keynotes started with Tony Travers excellent (as ever), if depressing, economic analysis, followed by Richard Allan's reporting on the work of the Power of Information Task Force, which he chaired.

Richard Steel Socitm I was unaware of "SatLav" - well done, Westminster!

Rose's thoughtful presentation on the Society's professional development and membership initiatives, and a call to action to us, as a profession, preceded the AGM, when Steve Palmer was confirmed as our new President.

I felt quite moved by his tribute to my year - and I wish I could have recorded them for Chris's "scrap-book"! thanks, Steve; very much appreciated.

Peter Gallon, from Northumberland County Council was elected to fill the vacant Socitm Vice-Presidency.

During the lunch-break, Martin Greenwood, Doug Maclean and I met with Professor Andrew Martin, of Warwick Business School, who contacted me in connection with work he proposes on Information Architecture, and which it appeared could complement Socitm benchmarking activities. Martin will meet Andrew again in the near future to further consider the prospects.

Chris and I left the conference soon after lunch as we had a long drive up to Workington, Cumbria, for a meeting on Friday, and I already felt tired. In truth, I've felt absolutely kn****ed for some weeks, now, and am hoping to negotiate a bit of a break, soon!

We arrived at the Washington Central Hotel soon after 7.00 pm. This is a really nice hotel with superb service and great food but, as I discovered, in the middle of town close to a number of pubs.

The noise long into the night from drunken yobs wasn't quite what I had expected in the Lake District!

On Friday morning I joined Cumbria's IT Managers at Allerdale House to discuss Socitm and how we can improve its support for and relationship with members in the regions. Cumbrian Authorities come under the Society's North-West Region, but tend not to have been much involved with its activities in recent years.

They made me very welcome, and I felt that following our ninety minutes, or so, of discussion their awareness of Socitm activities was much improved, and there's every prospect of working much more effectively with them in the future.

However, just as I've finished my year as President, this was a bit of a wake-up call for me on how much work we still have to do.

Chris and I planned to spend a short break in the area. After my meeting, we went for a walk, had lunch, then spent the rest of Friday dozing in our room until dinner! Then - spent most of Saturday driving home.