Yesterday I attended my induction as a new Councillor.
It all took place at theglass-and-metal `Endevour House', the gleaming HQ of Suffolk County Council. Though the place felt more like RBS or Goldmans than a local authority, I prefer the open-plan, corporate feel than the fustiness of most LA bases.
The induction itself was performed with extreme efficiency. It felt like I imagine a Club Class flight would do. Smiling, attentive, highly proficient staff ensuring you are taken care of the whole time, not able to do enough for you. For a while I almost forgot I was in the public sector, not five star hotel!
The piece-de-resistace is the Members' area which is a bit like a cross between the RSA and the British Library. Here you can snuggle down with the latest copy of the New Scientist or that day's East Anglian Daily Times, check the web and pop in to see your political colleagues in a neighbouring room.
One thing that jumped out at me as a third-sector person is how big a factor IT is in the way life works inside the Council. It is simply first class. And as new Councillor I was given a laptop, Blackberry and all the kit I needed on day one to be fully-functioning citizen on the Council's e-world.
So, at the end of a long day, I walked,badged and IT'd out into the street. The door was opened for me and I was helped with my stuff to the special spaces for Councillors in the car park.
The experience seems designed to illuminate who the real bosses are - the elected representatives. But I also sensed that it is also about assimilation. Bringing you into the corporate bosom to be part of the family. A seduction of sorts.
Lovely though it is, I am deliberately stepping back a little from this. I want my time to be spent on the streets of Hardwick not the corridors of Endevour House.
And my loyalties in the correspondingly right places.