Archive for January, 2015

Thoughts on the Senior Managers’ Conference

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

On the 29th January we had our first senior managers’ conference of the year at Keele University.  Everyone managed to make it there despite the best efforts of the weather and it was a really useful session.  John Henderson, who joins us as Chief Executive on the 5th May, was there, and it was great to hear from him.  One thing I picked up from his speech is his really strong focus on customers and their needs, which very much struck a chord with everyone at the conference.

The key focus of the event was how we work better in our localities, and it was encouraging that so many of our partners were also present to help with this conversation.  Localities is one of the areas we need to crack as it can be both good for delivery of outcomes and is essential to our financial future. Having said this, locality working is nothing new, we’re making real progress and we are already seeing examples of great practice. It was good to hear from Shelley Brough, Tony Bullock and Janene Cox about the work they are doing on specific projects.  Overall, a thought-provoking event which has helped to move forward our thinking on localities and help to shape our future plans

International Privacy Day

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

It may have bypassed you but Wednesday 28th January was international Data Privacy Day, which celebrates and raises awareness of protecting everyone’s personal data. I believe that we should take this issue really seriously, as I know I would be livid if the council inadvertently disclosed personal information belonging to me.

It is also important that staff are aware of how their own personal data can be kept safe. Some of us may be subject to on-line threats, harassment or bullying due to our job role. We should never accept this and, if it happens to you, you should report it to your line manager and the Information Governance Unit.

A guide to Personal On-line Privacy has been produced and I would encourage you to think about what private information you may make public on-line, particularly through social media.  Our intranet privacy pages have been updated, including advice and guidance, and there is still a chance to enter the prize draw!


Staffordshire Academy launches

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Last Thursday, we had the launch of the Staffordshire Academy here at Staffordshire Place.  The event brought together 26 strategic leaders from across the public sector in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent  to collaborate, think creatively and explore new solutions to the issues facing Staffordshire.  I am on the Academy along with Darryl Eyers (Deputy Director Place) and Andrew Donaldson (Strategic Policy and Partnerships Manager) from the County Council, and we are joined by a mix of chair people, chief executives, and senior officers from a range of key partners such as the Police, Fire, other Councils, NHS, Voluntary Sector and so on.

The Academy is being sponsored by the Cabinet Office and we were privileged to have The Rt Hon Francis Maude MP, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, to come along and open it.  I am really thrilled that we have been able to get the Academy off the ground.  This puts us right at the forefront of the work in the UK, which is also leading the rest of the world in reimagining how public services might be organised in the future. I’ve got high hopes that it can make a real difference in and for Staffordshire.

Visiting Cannock safeguarding teams and Staffordshire’s volunteers

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

Last Friday I went out to meet Colleen Male and her three safeguarding teams in Cannock.  Keeping children safe is one of our responsibilities that I take particularly seriously and I wanted to talk to some of the front line staff and managers to make sure that they had what they need to do the difficult and demanding job asked of them.  I found my visit hugely reassuring.  These teams face significant work pressures due to increasing caseloads, and the work they do requires real resilience.  Everyone I met was totally focussed, the teams were well organised, and the front line social workers were positive, committed, and supportive of each other.  At the end of my visit I left having real confidence in the teams’ ability to continue to do a great job for the county, and I also felt again a real sense of pride in the people that work for us and do so much for our communities.

As well as all those who work for us, the county is blessed by having large numbers of community and voluntary organisations who do a tremendous job in making Staffordshire a better place.  I have recently been out to meet the Burton Albion Community Trust who do great work in East Staffordshire in helping a range of individuals improve their life skills.  Because of their link with the football club they are able to draw in individuals who wouldn’t otherwise engage with ourselves or other organisations, which is a good example of why it can be better to commission others that to always try to do things ourselves.  Similarly, I am a trustee of the charity responsible for the Police Cadets that are being rolled out across the county.  At a recent Trustees’ meting it was brilliant to hear that in only a short time, very large numbers (in excess of a thousand) children and young people have been engaged by this work, attracted by the link with the Police.  Where we come in is to help make life easier for these organisations, and one of the common challenges faced by such organisations is attracting volunteers to support their work.  We can help with this, and we have already done some good work on this, but I am keen to explore what more we can do to get even better at attracting, recruiting and retaining volunteers as they will play an essential part in achieving the outcomes we want for Staffordshire.

A healthy start to the new year and Congratulations to Janene Cox

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

“Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a great break and you’re ready for another exciting year.  My start to the year is going to be slightly unusual as I have decided to do the Dry January thing this year. Dry January is a Public Health campaign to encourage you to drink alcohol slightly less. I have never done it before but am hoping it will give me a kick-start in trying to have a heathier lifestyle in 2015.  So far I have managed to make it through the first weekend without too much difficulty, but, looking at my calendar, January is a long month with another four weekends to go!

Only one other thing I really wanted to mention and that is to congratulate Janene Cox, our Commissioner for Tourism and the Cultural County, on receiving an OBE in the New Year Honours list for her work nationally in relation to libraries.  Janene is held in high regard by everyone that has any contact with her, whether inside or outside the county council, and her honour is thoroughly deserved.  Very few local authority officers nationally receive honours, so it speaks volumes about Janene and her qualities that she is one of the few chosen for this honour.  Well done Janene!”