Archive for January, 2011

Sharing and Celebrating

Monday, January 31st, 2011

I kicked off this week with a meeting in London with Chief Executives from other local authorities.  We met to swap the things we have learnt from our various major transformation programmes.  As you can imagine, I attend a lot of these types of event but see an important part of my job is taking these opportunities to shout about Staffordshire, our innovations and your successes; as well as steal ideas. I am always delighted and reassured to see that Staffordshire is ahead of the game in so many areas and tackling the challenges of growing numbers of older people and reduced budgets in a much more calm and controlled way that some other councils. You are all doing Staffordshire proud.  

In complete contrast, I spent an energetic evening at Knutton Youth Club on Wednesday.  I met many of the young people who use the Youth Club and the Youth Workers who run it.  Their role is very much about supporting and encouraging young people to make a positive contribution to their society and to take all the opportunities they receive.  Despite reminding me how long it is since my own teenage years, I had a great time!  I was enormously impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of both the staff and the volunteers.  One of the staff members there is about to retire after 31 years in the role and some of the people she helped as youngsters are now working in the club itself – what fantastic service! 

A final word on celebrating our successes, later on this week I will have the job of signing-off a stack of award bids to a national local government award scheme. We are putting in a bumper number of submissions across a range of categories. Celebrating your successes is going to be a key theme for 2011 and this is our starter for ten. We want your innovation to be nationally recognised so keep everything crossed that the judges agree that Staffordshire is the best!

Winners and Roads

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

One of the favourite parts of my job – and one I don’t get to do nearly enough of – is getting out of the office and meeting colleagues who are really enthusiastic about their jobs.  This week I was delighted to present the All About You awards at the Shire Hall gallery.  The winners came from a multitude of different services, and included individuals and teams but every one provides excellent service.  Some, like Community Care Workers Jean Forster and Carol Baker, work to support the most vulnerable people in our communities.  Others, like Paul Butlin in the Trading Standards service, go above and beyond to support their colleagues.  Some winners had taken a completely new approach to their job and are great examples of innovation.  I was also pleased to recognise colleagues who have won national awards, including the Management Development Team and Records Management Team.  Do take a moment to read their stories and enter your colleagues in the next quarter.

In Cabinet yesterday, we agreed our budget. Our planned approach means services are in safe hands.  We also approved a review of the Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership.  The work of the partnership is extremely important because it ensures Staffordshire’s roads are among the safest in the country.  While we still have dark nights and icy weather, I’m pleased we can show our commitment to such an important issue for local communities.

LEP leads the way for local businesses

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

A hunger for information is very natural during any period of change, I hope therefore you have had a chance to read my e-mail which told you about the strategic and financial plans going to cabinet next week. Please contact the Communications team if you haven’t already seen a copy of this.

I said in my e-mail that I hope there are no surprises for you contained in those documents. We are well-placed within Staffordshire and I feel confident that our innovative yet realistic approach will deliver the best results for residents and avoid compulsory job losses wherever possible. 

Elsewhere work continues apace to build a prosperous Staffordshire.  I attended the first wider engagement session of the new Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise partnership at Keele University last week.  Around two hundred and fifty business leaders came together to decide how the partnership can shape the future of business in the region.  Well done to teams behind the organisation of the event. 

This week has also seen the Department of Education announce schools performance, and I am delighted that Staffordshire’s schools GCSE results are improving.  74.8% of our pupils get 5 or more GCSEs at grades A* to C and 54% of pupils get 5 or more GCSEs including English and Maths.  Both of these figures show year on year improvement.  Our relationship with schools is changing to reflect the national policy agenda and these figures provide a great foundation as we move into this new era. 

Finally, a quick advertisement for the Your Voice sessions.  Those of you attended the first events found them very helpful, so we are running a second wave, starting on 1 February.  If you have been before, you will find we cover new information, so do book again.  This will be your chance to talk to me and other members of the Senior Leadership Team – I look forward to seeing you.

A vital new year

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Firstly can I wish everyone a very Happy New Year.  However and wherever you celebrated Christmas, I hope you had a good time, and if you were working, thank you, it was much appreciated.

This is going to be a vitally important year for Staffordshire and the county council. It will see us continue to transform and improve the services we deliver and they way they are delivered. I am delighted with the progress that has been made so far and I am confident that we can maintain the level of energy and focus to make an even bigger impact on residents’ lives from 2011 onwards.

 The transformation will not only allow us to improve outcomes but also achieve our savings targets. Releasing money to reinvest in vital services, as well as contributing to the national debt payback. 

 Many other authorities have made big and dramatic announcements about cuts.  I want to reassure you that we are well ahead of the game, many of you will have already experienced or are currently in the middle of reviews which are about implementing new and innovative ways which will allow us to deliver services more efficiently. This approach will allow us to avoid wholesale service cuts. For well over a year now we have had a clear plan about how we move forward. We are very much in control. 

 It will be a challenging year, but I am up for the challenge and I know you are too.