Learn to listen

Hi – I don’t know about everyone else, but I seem to be suffering from a plague of mosquitoes at home at the moment which has left parts of me resembling a pincushion. My wife advised me to sleep with the windows shut (fortunately for her she never gets bitten) but I didn’t listen and am now paying the irritating consequences as the critters have had their fill of my blood. It reminded me of the importance of listening to people as their advice is often useful.

This was brought home to me at Cabinet this week. The highest-profile item was on denominational schools transport. This has been the subject of thorough and extensive consultation. The cynical view of consultation and one that we unfortunately hear too often is, “what’s the point? They’ve already made their minds up”. Naturally you need a starting point for any consultation and that is the initial proposal. But the final schools transport decision shows that a well run consultation means we listen and truly informs the final decision. The county council’s finally adopted policy subsequently changed considerably. 

It has signalled an end to a system that was fundamentally unfair to the majority, which was the principal aim. But it now reflects what individual families told us about the impact on them. This has been a major project which has produced a positive end result in a very short space of team. It required teamwork, resilience and organisation. I would like to thank and congratulate all those involved.

Cabinet also discussed the LEP – the Local Enterprise Partnership – which we are forming initially with Stoke-on-Trent. LEPs will replace the former regional development agencies such as Advantage West Midlands. LEPs will be smaller, more flexible agencies, better able to respond to local economic needs. We have listened strongly to businesses and our partners when producing proposals for what the LEP will look like in our area. It is an area where the county council will be very active in the coming weeks, and is frequently mentioned by Philip Atkins in the Leader’s Blog.

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