Friday, 22 March 2013

Looking back and to the future

County Councils have a four year term so as our last election was in 2009 we are fast approaching County Council Elections which will take place on May 2nd.

When I was elected as Leader in 2010 three years seemed a way off but the time has absolutely flown by.

It became quite evident not long after being elected that there were three key priorities, firstly to plan for and deliver £79 million savings over three years,  keep any council tax increases to an absolute minimum, and to improve our Safeguarding children's service, which was rated as inadequate in an Ofsted Inspection October 2010.

During the three years there has been so much else going on - much of it to support the three key priorities – and, yes, I have had a few sleepless night and sometimes it has been really manic, but that is very much part of the job.

So as I get ready to go out canvassing and talking to residents there has been some reflection and, of course, looking to the future.

Implementing a huge change in how we do things and rationalising our property portfolio has meant we have already achieved £59 million pounds of saving and have identified the final £20 million for this year. At the same time there has been no increase in Council Tax for the last three years.

There has been a real focus on the Children's Safeguarding Service with weekly one-to-ones with the Chief Executive and Director of Children's Service and the Cabinet Member for Children and Families, as well as visits by myself and Councillors to various parts of the service.

A continual drive for improvement of standards across the Safeguarding Service, investment in better technology and training are just some of examples of what has been done. During that time there has been a more stringent inspection criteria for us to meet.

The Ofsted inspectors made an unannounced inspection a couple of weeks ago. It was rigorous but fair and I am more than pleased that we have been rated now as adequate, but with so many other parts of our Children's Service rated as good the benchmark has been set for the future.

So, with all three key priorities met, we look to the future.

Today there was a full County Council Meeting, which was not the usual one with the normal agenda because it was all about the new Governance arrangements for the next County Council after the May Elections.

After Tuesday, when the County Council Election is formally called, there is a ‘black out’ on media about any County Councillor, so no more blogs.

I would just like to thank readers for their interest and for the comments sent in, which I always look at.

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