I've been selected to be part of a series of training events taking place over the coming year called the Local Government Next Generation Leadership programme. The first event took place for three days at the end of last week in Portsmouth and Eastleigh.
The training programme is operated by the three main political parties individually and there are 18 councillors from around the UK on the Lib Dem course. The aim is to understand local government and leadership better. This is the fifth year of the course.
Our visits to Portsmouth and Eastleigh were based around understanding how two very different local councils - both of which have been run for a long time by the Lib Dems - operate. Portsmouth is a very urban unitary council about a third of the size of Cornwall in terms of population. Eastleigh is a smaller district council which is predominantly suburban and rural.
We met two very different council leaders, as well as two very different Lib Dem MPs in Mike Hancock and Chris Huhne. Portsmouth, because of its congested nature, is much more centralised whereas Eastleigh has operated a local committee system and decentralised model for many years.
No two local councils are exactly the same and it's not possible to suggest that something that is done in Portsmouth would automatically work in Cornwall. However there are similarities in services and in approach and I learned a lot of things that will be appropriate for Cornwall. I'll be thinking more about these and seeking to produce policy and service ideas in due course.
The photo shows me during a tour around Portsmouth's commercial harbour where we looked at both the ferry operation and their freight facilities.