A year at Staffordshire County Council

Today marks my first year in Staffordshire County Council. I probably won’t give as much attention to anniversaries in coming years, but, given the change from being a General in the Army to being a Chief Executive in local government, I hope that you’ll forgive me a small piece of reflection.

The first, and most important thing to report is that this has been one of the most enjoyable years I’ve had at work for a long time, and it all comes down to the people. I sat at the Staffordshire Day evensong yesterday evening, and the Bishop of Stafford pretty much summed it up. The county is a hidden gem, populated by friendly and pragmatic people. I would say the same of the county council, whether talking of politicians or officers. I often meet people at wider events outside the county who comment on us positively as an organisation.

I’m often asked whether there is a huge change from life in the Army, and the honest answer is that there isn’t as much as I expected. I’m working with exceptional people, making finely balanced decisions – where usually there isn’t a perfect answer, and finding consensus in a financially challenged environment. So not much change there.

If I have one observation and recommendation, it is that we could afford to be more confident in our dealings with partners and with the public. I have found that, when I have explained the reality of the challenges that we face, whether in road repair, child safe-guarding, adult social care or school places, critics quickly understand that there is no easy solution. I think that a more confident organisation would be more agile in thinking through how we are going to keep Staffordshire the attractive place that we all know that it is.

So, thanks for your support in the last year, and here’s to many more.

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