The theme of the North-West Regional meeting was "Managing and Accessing Information".

Cheshire's Par Esegobona (who, I'm glad to say, later joined the Region's Committee) presented on "Building an Information Management Roadmap" from the perspective of the Cheshire County and Districts Councils, which are being reorganised into two unitary Authorities (Cheshire East & West) which come into existence next April.

That context vividly illustrated the challenges of effective information management - ensuring information is available to the right person, in the right place and at the right time. (I couldn't help reflecting that here was another application for PSIPHON.)

Simon Norbury had planned to travel up to Liverpool the previous evening, but as his kids were unwell (Chicken Pox) elected, instead, to travel up to Liverpool in the morning, arriving in time to present his Government Connect/ CoCo update, which resulted in a lively debate, and I weighed-in with Socitm's rationale for supporting the programme.

I presented on the changes in Socitm, following which the sponsor - NetApp - presented "Tiered Storage or not Tiered Storage - that is the question" - its storage system and approach to de-duplication of data. I was unfamiliar with the company and its products, but quickly concluded they merited further investigation.

After lunch, Professor Barry Forde, from Lancashire University, and John Barrett, from Cheshire County Council, presented "Developing a NW Regional Communications Network", based on the joining of Cheshire's IP Network with CLEO - "Cumbria and Lancashire Education Online".

Finally, Mark Wheatley, from Socitm Consulting, presented on "Developing the IT Professionalism Agenda", which included details of Aspire.

The NW Regional AGM followed. Steve Hopson stood-down as Chair, and Cheshire's David Crowe was elected to succeed him, with John Curruthers, from the Wirral, as Vice Chair and Denise Griffiths (Cheshire) Secretary. Steve remains on the Committee which Steve Jones (another Director) has also joined.

Those of us who stayed (mainly the organisers) had the opportunity to look around the Tate Gallery after the meeting. It started well, for me, with "The Kiss" by Auguste Rodin, who I've always been a fan of, on the ground floor. As we wandered up through the Galleries, 'though, there were increasing numbers of more avant garde works that I completely failed to appreciate!

I was staying with Steve and Sue for a second night and we went out to dinner at a hostelry in their village where we bumped-into Chris Guest, who is Head of Technology & Improvement at Flintshire County Council, and a Socitm Past President.