Archive for November, 2010

We are the champions!

Friday, November 26th, 2010

I can’t seem to have a conversation this week with out hearing of another award that we have won or been shortlisted for!  We won two awards and were shortlisted for a further four at the Children and Young People Now awards ceremony at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London.  The Staffordshire Young People’s Service Bumps and Babies group won the Early Years Award.  Staffordshire Moorlands Community and Learning Partnership’s Lads and Dads group won top prize in the Parenting Awards, as well as being highly recommended in the Extended School Awards.

In addition, Burntwood Community and Learning Partnership’s Hit the Ground Crawling young fathers’ initiative was shortlisted for the Early Years Award, the Wombourne Youth Action Team Multi-Use Games Area was shortlisted for the Extended Schools Award and Stone Community and Learning Partnership’s Right Stuff project for the Third Sector Award.  Well done to all those involved in these diverse groups and projects.

Congratulations also to the award winning Procurement team!  The Stafford-based team have won the SOPO Award for Outstanding Achievement in Procurement in the local council category.  Their award winning entry recognised their work in ensuring that we support local businesses when we buy food for the school meals service, while also complying with complex European legislation.

We also had two worthy runners up at the Guardian Public Services awards.  Charlotte Bailey was a runner up for the Public Servant of the year for her work in consulting and engaging parents and developing the free web based toolkit www.parentandcarerengagement.org.uk.  The county council’s Dementia Navigator Scheme in North Staffordshire was also a runner up in the ‘Service Delivery’ category.  Members of the navigator team visit individuals, their carers and families in their own homes and help them to access local services which are appropriate to their needs.

 Congratulations to all of you for putting Staffordshire on the map in such diverse ways.

This week several Cabinet members and I attended the County Council network, which gave us a chance to listen to other councils outline their future plans.  We came away from that meeting very confident that we are ahead of the game in our in loads of areas compared to other Councils.  I had a chance to share this with many of our managers this morning.  I thanked them for their phenomenal efforts to date, and I want to extend those thanks to you.  There is still much to do, but we are definitely on the right track.

Commitment and conversation

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

I believe that working well with our partners is critical to our success.  This week I have spent a lot of time meeting partners.  On Wednesday I was pleased to welcome the senior management from Staffordshire Police to County Buildings.  Later the same day I visited Stafford Hospital and was able to meet some of the staff.  Despite the pressures of the Public Enquiry, I was impressed by their commitment to improving patient care.

 I have also had several meetings with Chief Executives from Staffordshire’s districts and boroughs.  All our partners share our ultimate aim of improving residents’ lives and the prosperity of the county, while needing to provide value for money.  Behind the scenes we are working smarter and better together.  I have really appreciated the opportunities to hear about the way partners are changing, and to update them on our own new ways of working. 

 At Cabinet this week, we were pleased to note our progress in improving the way we work.  Among the many recent improvements we have made it much easier for customers to contact us, we have been part of a successful bid to create a Local Enterprise Partnership, and we are very well prepared to keep the county moving in the event of bad weather.  In addition we announced a freeze in council tax, which will make a big difference to residents.

 If you work in the Moorlands and haven’t had chance to hear about our new ways of working, please do book onto the ‘Your Voice’ session on Monday 22 November at 3pm at Staffordshire Moorlands Children’s Centre in Biddulph. 

Finally, there are two surveys where we would really like your feedback.  The Your Voice Survey will be done every three months and will help us find out how you think we could do things better, what’s worrying you the most and where we need to do things differently. This will help us inform how we do things in the future and will also allow us to measure how we’re doing.

 And if you work in Stafford and haven’t yet completed the car parking survey, please do so.  The results will play a major part in helping us to ensure that we invest in sufficient car parking spaces for staff.

A moment of reflection

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

I feel this week as though winter has really arrived.  With the dark nights and the drop in temperature, it’s been a week to wrap up warm.  I’m also hearing far too many conversations about people who have done all of their Christmas shopping!  I am probably a typical man, in that I will ignore that there are only 6 weeks to Christmas, leave most of the preparations to my family and pop out to buy presents on December 24th!

 I started the week at a Your Voice session in Cannock.  I was able to talk to around 25 staff face to face, and talk through the changes that we need to make, and the reasons behind them.  I really value being able to meet staff face to face, and hope if you haven’t already booked to come along, that you will do so.  The aim of the session is to be interactive, so do take the chance to ask the Senior Leadership Team your questions.

Midland Expressway will be awarding 10 annual scholarships, each to the value of £2000. These will be for Staffordshire students who are going on to study mathematics, the sciences, technology or engineering to degree or equivalent level.

We were able to welcome the Chief Executive of the Midlands Expressway to County Buildings last Friday.  Midland Expressway (who run the M6 Toll) have announced that they will be awarding 10 annual scholarships, each to the value of £2000.  These will be for Staffordshire students who are going on to study mathematics, the sciences, technology or engineering to degree or equivalent level.  This is a fantastic and generous offer from one of the region’s most high profile businesses and I hope local students will take advantage of it.

 There has been a lot of debate about the Poppy Appeal and what it stands for.  I believe that on November 11th it is really important that we take a moment to remember those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.  I had the privilege, along with the Chairman of the County Council, of representing the county council and laying a wreath at the Service of Remembrance at the National Memorial Arboretum near Alrewas today.  Although the weather was less than perfect the turn out was tremendous and the service was held in the presence of HRH The Duke of Gloucester.  It was a hugely moving ceremony and I was proud to be able to represent the Council there and take time to reflect on the sacrifice of others which helps to put life in perspective.

Still clocking up the awards

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

I don’t know about you but I can’t quite get used to the clocks going back after the weekend. Putting the clock back always provides an interesting debate. And with public and central government support seemingly more in favour of not losing an hour of daylight over the winter, despite Scotland’s traditional opposition, it’s something that we may see change over the next couple of years. For now, I’ll probably just get used to the change when the clocks change again in March – we’ll see!

I know it’s not long since I blogged about the awards county council staff are clocking up (no pun intended!) but I couldn’t write today’s entry without saying a huge congratulations to all the annual All about you winners that were recently announced. We had a prize giving ceremony in the Oak Room in County Buildings which myself and the Leader Philip Atkins attended. There was a great atmosphere at the event and it was fantastic to see people’s faces when they found out they’d become overall winners. They really were worthy winners. You can read more about who scooped the prizes here.   

 On the story of awards, our very own Management Development Team recently won a regional training award for their manager training course (called The Staffordshire Manager). The team beat off huge opposition to win – little surprise to my mind when evidence has shown that managers who have been through the course were making changes in their areas which resulted in on average £20,000 worth of cost savings in their areas. That to me demonstrates exactly what we’re trying to achieve – innovative working resulting in savings to the bottom line as a result of us working more effectively.

 Next Monday, I’m doing another Your Voice session in Cannock where staff can come along to meet members of the Senior Leadership Team to find out more about what’s happening in the county council and to ask any questions you have. There are still places available, so if you would like to come along, please register as soon as possible. Other sessions are also available across the county, find out more here.

 We had the first meeting of the Stoke & Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) on Monday evening.  We were thrilled to be given the ‘green light’ by government as one of the 24 LEPs in the country to be approved to go ahead, reflecting on months of hard work from colleagues in economic development.  The meeting involved senior people from key businesses across the County and Stoke, including JCB, Michelin, Alton Towers and the M6 expressway, as  well as representatives from the universities and colleges.  It gives us a phenomenal opportunity to make a real difference to the economy of Staffordshire and everyone was determined not to waste that opportunity.  Indeed, as one of the business reps said, the clock is ticking.  I’ll keep you updated in future blogs.