Archive for March, 2015

Locality working in action

Monday, March 30th, 2015

I had a really interesting and informative trip out to Burntwood last Friday with County Councillor Sue Woodward and Wayne Mortiboys the District Commissioning Lead. We had a look at a range of things that are in the pipeline (a new GP health centre on the site of Greenwood House, a proposed extra care facility on the former Oakdene Day Centre site) as well as looking at some of the issues and challenges (access to Chasewater, the future of the vocational centre, poor highway surfacing at High Street, Chase Terrace).

What came across really clearly to me is that our locality approach is one of the keys to our future. We went to Springhill Children’s Centre and met Katy, one of the mums (who just happened to be dressed as a fairy, complete with wings!) who had set up a mums and toddlers group. She wasn’t commissioned to do this. It was her idea, her enthusiasm and her hard work that got this off the ground. I didn’t know that Katy existed, but Sue Woodward did. We need to be really good at using the knowledge that people like our local members, our District Commissioning Leads, and our locality based staff have of our communities to identify the thousands of people like Katy and to give them the little bit of help they need. Not to start commissioning them, because we often end up, inadvertently, creating dependency and burdening people with bureaucracy. But to give them just enough support to get them off the ground and to help them with the problems they have along the way.

Another example of how locality working can make a real difference was in evidence at full Council last Thursday. Council were discussing the annual report on our local community fund which gives all of our councillors £10,000 to spend each year on community projects in their division. It is fascinating to see the range of initiatives supported, and how effective small sums of money can be at getting projects off the ground. But the scheme works really well, and the money we put in generates more than double the amount in matched funding, not to mention the hours of volunteer time put in to deliver these projects. The highlight for me was a project in County Councillor Derek Davis’ area. The village of Chadsmoor never got a war memorial after the end of World War 1, despite over a hundred men from the village having given their lives for their country. Now, a hundred years later, with help from the Community fund, the fallen of Chadsmoor are finally getting a fitting memorial to their sacrifice.

So by combining local knowledge, local commitment and a little bit of help from ourselves we can make a massive difference.

Anyway, sermon over, I am now looking forward to a well deserved two week holiday in the sun. I am a big believer in the value of holidays to recharge the batteries so you can look forward to me returning full of energy and ideas in April!

Congratulations Jacqui

Friday, March 13th, 2015

You may have seen my announcement this week that Jacqui McKinlay will be leaving us to become the new Executive Director of the Centre for Public Scrutiny.  This is a great opportunity for Jacqui, a chance to make her mark on the national stage.  I would like to wish Jacqui all the best in her new role which is thoroughly well deserved.

At the same time it is a blow for ourselves, and follows on from Eric Robinson’s recent departure. What this clearly shows is that what we are doing here at Staffordshire is being noticed elsewhere, and people outside Staffordshire are desperate to have what we have!  The great thing for us is that we have a wealth and depth of talent in our organisation, and this will allow us to take some time to think about how we deal with the vacancies in our leadership team.

This week also saw one of my very rare visits to the Theatre.  I went to the New Vic in Newcastle (or is it Stoke?) to see Dracula and was absolutely enthralled by their production.  If you have never been to the New Vic I can recommend a visit.  It has a “theatre in the round” so that all the action takes place in the middle of the audience.  This gives a real feeling of involvement in what is going on.  I thought it was amazing how the story was brought to life so vividly without huge stage sets or loads of props, a real testament to the skills of the director, the cast and the crew.  All in all, I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening and can recommend it to anyone looking for an evening out (it closes on the 28th March).

Staff Surveys and Managers’ Conferences

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Unless you have been on Mars for a week you couldn’t possibly have missed that we are carrying out a staff survey!  I hope you don’t mind being inundated with e-mails, posters, mailings etc but I am determined that we should have a really good response rate this time.  I really want to know what you think otherwise I can’t do anything about it, and I want you to be open and honest in your response. Thank you to everyone who has completed the survey already.  We have already had a good response, over 1,500 so far, but we really need everyone to respond.  So, if you haven’t done so already, please complete the survey.

This week I had the opportunity to attend and speak at a Managers’ Conference at Staffordshire University.  This provides managers with an update on our business plan for 2015, allows them to discuss their role in the delivery of this plan, and provides them with a development opportunity in the afternoon.  It was a really good event, and everyone there made a really valuable contribution.  A further four are planned over the next few weeks and if you received the original e-mail inviting you but haven’t booked a place yet I suggest you contact Shawn Hewitt in OD who may have one or two places left.