Archive for May, 2013

Back to business

Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Me meeting the Countess of Wessex

Meeting the Countess of Wessex during her visit to Staffordshire Place last week

Following the excitement of the recent county council election, recent days have had a real back to business feel about them. Together with colleagues from the Senior Leadership Team I met both the returning and newly elected councillors for the first time last week and there were many new faces. No doubt they will bring new ideas, different expectations and a different outlook to the work we do. Full Council will meet today (Thursday) to formally agree a new cabinet and I am sure we will have a busy few months ahead.

Our role as officers remains, as ever, to translate the pledges – the basis of the election of our new administration – into action. Through their choices in the polling booths, the people of Staffordshire have set our direction for the next four years. In many instances it will be business as usual, including a relentless drive to support job creation and economic growth, to deliver value for money, to support people to be more independent  and to produce better outcomes for people who live, work or  are educated in the county.

It’ll be a challenge, but we believe we can make improvements for local people and their families because of our commissioning approach. In recent months, many of you will have attended the Achieving Commissioning Excellence workshops (if you haven’t been to one yet, find out more about future events on the intranet).

Put simply, we ‘commission’ in order to make things happen that achieve positive outcomes for our residents, communities and society as a whole: based on knowing their needs, wants, aspirations and experience. Individual councils cannot make these changes by going it alone; commissioning is about making the best use of all of our resources and working ever more closely with partners to deliver real improvements in our communities. We need to do things differently, to innovate, to work in tandem across the public sector in Staffordshire – especially against a backdrop of what will likely be even less financial support from central government. We’re already doing these things, and more and in many areas, leading the way locally and nationally through programmes such as the integration of social care and health, and the Entrust partnership.

Commissioning is a theme that I will return to here on my blog but in the meantime you can find out more about the Staffordshire approach on the intranet.

MJ Local Government Achievement Awards

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

Waiting to present to the judging panel for this year’s MJ Local Government Achievement Awards last week gave me time to reflect on all the County Council has achieved recently. We have been shortlisted for Best Achieving Council; for the Community Investor Award in partnership with South Staffordshire Council and Wolverhampton City Council for work at i54 South Staffordshire; and for Innovation in Communications for the Families First project. I’m extremely proud that our work, your work, to improve the lives of Staffordshire people is being recognised nationally. How we do things has been evolving. Our priorities to create jobs and growth, and be a well-run, value for money council, have shaped the way we strive to deliver better outcomes for local people. This has involved challenge and change, which hasn’t always been easy but the results speak for themselves. Not because we’re being nominated for national awards, but because we’re making a tangible difference to people’s lives. Through your expertise, skills, and commitment to always do a good job – evidence of which I see daily – we’ve attracted multi million pound investments to the area, bringing jobs and a boost to the local economy. Through radically rethinking how we do things, we’re supporting families, improving lives.

Issues such as these, system and service redesign not for its own sake, but to be better at what we do, making use of community budgets, stimulating economic growth and innovation were discussed at the Spring Seminar of the Association of County Chief Executives that I attended last week, and included speakers, Lord Heseltine and Sir Bob Kerslake, head of the civil service. In so many of these areas we’re leading the field, more reasons why we’ve been shortlisted for three MJ awards. The winners of these prestigious awards will be announced 20 June, so fingers crossed, but whatever the outcome, a big thank you to you all.