Archive for September, 2017

Connecting Us Survey and Burton Gateways update

Monday, September 25th, 2017

The Connecting Us Survey is just about to go live, and I would like to take the opportunity to encourage you to make sure that your voice is heard. This is the main survey of the year, and it has been invaluable for me over the past 2 plus years in adjusting our policy. I hope that this year we will see positive results of our moves towards smart working. The smaller survey which we recently undertook suggested that you approved of the flexibility that it gives you, and it will be interesting to see what effect that has on the larger survey with the same questions as last year. Sadly, you will probably get a little bored of my exhorting you to fill in the survey over the next few weeks, but please bear with me; it is one of the most important feedback mechanisms that I have in steering the organisation.

Some of you will be aware of the major renovations that we are undertaking on St Peter’s Bridge in Burton-on-Trent. It’s a huge task involving jacking up the 2 bridges and replacing the steel bearings on which the reinforced concrete sections sit, as well as stripping back the decking, resealing it and resurfacing it. The task is made all the more pressing by the fact that the bridge is too narrow to allow partial closing, and there is a diversion around Burton, which is causing considerable traffic delays in an already busy town. For the sake of local businesses and residents, we are working to get more people on site as the opportunities arise. There will be a second crew doing the waterproofing from Monday 25 September, and a second Amey crew arriving on Monday 2 October when they can get on with rebuilding the drains and pavements of the waterproofed sections. In the meantime, we will be making on-street parking free until Christmas in order to encourage more footfall in the town centre, as well as the common sense measure of placing a moratorium on other road works in the town while this project is running.

Crowdfunding, and thanks

Monday, September 18th, 2017

There’s a hugely important milestone in our People Helping People work this week, with the launch of the Crowdfund Staffordshire platform. I would ask you all to have a think about whether it can support the important work you are doing.  It’s not just about finding another funding source for activities that we want to do with and for Staffordshire’s residents, but also a very good way of grabbing people’s attention for a particular subject.  In essence, if somebody contributes even a pound, they feel a greater connection and ownership with the issue.

Click here to find out more about the initiative—I would encourage you to have a look at it.


I just also wanted to thank everybody involved in managing the closure of a privately run care home over the past three weeks.  It’s sadly a relatively frequent occurrence, often, but not always, brought on by a poor rating by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).  The team from Health and Care have to find alternative care settings for very frail people at short notice, working with families and friends to get the best solutions.  It’s not an easy task; emotions run high when these things happen, but the team have dealt with the closure in a calm, reassuring manner, finding suitable accommodation for all of the residents.  It’s one of those unseen and thankless tasks that our colleagues do every day, and I, for one, am very grateful to them.


Praise from Ofsted for our children’s services

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

This week, we have received confirmation of the result of the recent OFSTED inspection of the Children’s Service.  We have been graded Good again, and have progressed in all areas over the last inspection in 2014, when we also were graded Good.  This is excellent news, and I probably won’t adequately express my enormous pride and appreciation of the efforts and achievements of our colleagues in this short blog post. 

We volunteered to be a pilot local authority for Ofsted’s new inspection regime, which is always a risk, but we were confident that we had a good story to tell.  The new regime starts from the ground up, checking that the outcomes achieved by the children match the policies and strategies voiced by the leadership.  I think that this is exactly right, as it tests whether there is a clear line of responsibility, accountability and authority from top to bottom.  The comments that we received from the inspection team praised the commitment and focus of all of our people involved in this vital service, and intimated that we were close to outstanding in many areas.   One of the key things that came out was the positive results of the professional and leadership development programmes that have been in place for the past two years. There were, as we would expect, a couple of observations which we will address; some case-loads were viewed as being high, and notetaking was not universally of the same quality.

For anybody reading this and thinking, why does this matter so much, I would make the observation that looking after neglected and abused children must rank amongst the most important things that we do, and it is probably one of the few things that anybody can remember about a local authority.  Therefore, having one of the few strong Good ratings in the country gives us credibility when we are seeking to do innovative and novel things in this and other fields.  There is, of course, no room for complacency, and we will maintain the focus and effort that has got us to this excellent result, but just for a brief moment, this is a time when it would be acceptable to remember how far we’ve come, and to admire the view.