Archive for October, 2013

Why taking part in #Ourday is important

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Last week saw staff members across the county council take to twitter for the Local Government Association’s annual Tweetathon #Ourday.

A national initiative, I was delighted that we were one of many councils across the country that participated. It gave us a great opportunity to raise the profile of what we do, and the hard work that happens across Staffordshire every day to improve the lives of people who live, work and study here.

Via tweets scheduled throughout the day from staff members who volunteered for their typical work day to be featured as part of #Ourday, we reflected just a small section of the work that we do. Highlights included the Make it Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent investment team, Legal Support Assistant Vicky, one of our rangers Karen who works on Cannock Chase and Gina who works in the Youth and Community Team to name but a few. We even featured a bride and groom Mr & Mrs Gordon who got married in Newcastle under the expert guidance of Registrar team there.

Philip Atkins, the Council Leader, also sat with Customer Service Advisor Brad Evans in our contact centre for the morning answering resident enquiries that came through on Twitter and Facebook.

As a result of taking part, Staffordshire County Council was named one of the top tweeters on the day by the Local Government Association, our tweets were seen by 81,785. This matters, not because of the numbers, but because it’s about creating new conversations with residents, about them contacting us in a way that suits them (figures from Ofcom show that 9% more of our residents are on-line than in many other counties up and down the country and the growth of the use of mobile phones and tablets has been rapid).

It’s also about promoting what transactions can be done on-line, such as registering a child for a school or reporting a pothole, adding to the range of ways that we can support and deliver services and positioning ourselves for the for the future. You – our staff are also our biggest asset so the more we can help people to understand what their council tax pays for and recognise the work we do, the better.

It’s all connected. We need to make sure we’re being as innovative as we can be while at the same time providing people with the right information, advice and guidance they need and want to be more independent. Having conversations about what we do and making new connections with people – on-line or in any other way – is about engaging our individuals and communities so that together we can do better for Staffordshire.

Achieving Excellence

Monday, October 14th, 2013

On Monday this week I met with senior colleagues from across the council whoseinput in the next few months is going to be critical to delivering our Achieving Excellence plan, which will eventually become our business plan for 2014 and beyond. As I’ve said many times before we are a great council with great people and we have achieved a lot in the last 4 years, but the world has changed and the financial pressures we’re facing are significant and, unfortunately, I don’t see that this is going to change in the foreseeable future, if ever.

Our options are few. We could follow what other councils have done and shut & cut, but how will that improve the lives of local people? How will that make us feel as an organisation that I know is full of people committed to public service and to doing the right thing for our communities?  It’s true that we have to change, that we need to evolve our relationships with people, and talk more about independence and responsibility, but this isn’t just our issue. This is a national challenge – the future of our health and social care services rest on how we manage the very real situation of a growing older population, and people living longer due to technological, social and medical advances. We’re just part of the jigsaw, which is why we cannot work alone. The public sector manages £7.5 billion in Staffordshire, and we have a responsibility to our local people to use it wisely and with their input. In partnership with others we need to lead and commission, as well as manage and deliver.  This means change for us all, and I understand that this can sometimes feel unsettling – and there’s a lot happening at the moment – but what we’re doing now will be the bedrock for our future.

There will be many conversations happening across the organisation over the coming weeks because I’ve asked managers to talk to teams about the more practical detail about our new ways of working, picking up on outputs from the recent LGA Peer Review, and our business planning for the future. I want these conversations to happen and I want them to involve you.

Our aspiration is that by 2015/16  we won’t be talking about services, but in partnership with others – recognising that others are sometimes better placed than us to deliver – doing our best as efficiently and effectively as possible to improve the lives of the people who live, work and study in Staffordshire.