Down the Procurement Pub – England’s glories, August reading material, the CCS and Lissie

London, Leeds and Lincoln - three of the finest cities in England, in their very different ways, and I’ve visited all three this week.

 London has had its virtues extolled here before. But over the last 20 years, Leeds has gone from being a rundown ex-industrial city, with a smelly canal running through a range of disused and unloved buildings,  to a vibrant place based on professional services, a great retail centre, entertainment, hospitality and service industries. And you can still have a good time for a lot less than in London. Salt and pepper squid and crab cake, followed by a smoked haddock omelette and chips, all for around £12 in the excellent Town Hall Tavern gastropub, helped down with a pint of Timothy Taylor Boltmaker Yorkshire Bitter. Loved the background music and the friendly staff too.

Then Lincoln, simply the most beautiful city centre in England I think (see picture). Sat in the Magna Carta pub for a couple of hours (free wifi, blogging of course) with a couple of pints of Jennings Strawberry Blond Ale, writing away whilst listening to the wide range of questions being posed to the long suffering barman by tourists. Which hotel will let our dog stay with us? Is there a shop selling Italian newspapers?  Do you bring the beer to our table?  Was is zis Hobgoblin Beer you are selling? And you can buy an amazing detached house in Lincoln for the price of a one-bedroom flat in outer London or a shed in Knightsbridge.

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There’s a good piece by Colin Cram on the Guardian website looking at the formation of the Crown Commercial Service (CCS). He asks three big and important questions – how much change is really being proposed? Will the CSS be influential? And what about the rest of the public sector?  He raises the fascinating prospect  of the CCS taking on some hot potatoes – “I have little doubt, for example, that the Department of Transport will be only too pleased to hand over the contracting for the West Coast rail line to the CCS”. Yes, I agree, but the big question is will the CCS be happy to take that on? Not if they value their reputation, I’d suggest!

The article has also provoked a whole list of equally fascinating questions from our regular commentator Final Furlong, including questions about resources for CCS, and whether CCS should stop claiming savings that are really made by Departments! Well worth reading the article – and comments – here.

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I like August but not for the obvious reasons. Don’ t much like the heat and object to the football season starting at this time, much as I love the game. I do like the fact that everyone is on holiday however, so the trains are less busy, you can get into restaurants more easily (unless they are tourist traps) and the emails drop off a bit. A great time to catch up on your procurement knowledge!

So throughout the month, we’ll be featuring (again) all the research papers and briefs we’ve published over the last (almost) three years. Why not spend some of that nice quiet time in the shade doing a bit of reading? Get yourself up to date with market-informed sourcing, contract discovery and opportunity management, supplier lifecycle management...

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Finally, we’ll have our July / August music review tomorrow, but to whet your appetite, here is Lissie, whose debut album in 2010 was a favourite of mine. This new single, Further Away, from a forthcoming album, is getting deserved radio play. It's remarkably Fleetwood Mac Rumours period-like and is generally a great sound for a sunny summer’s day.

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