April 10, 2014
This month I was delighted to meet the seven construction companies who have been successful in being added to the North Wales approved list for delivering an ambitious £200m programme of improvements to our schools. I was really impressed with the commitment and vision of these companies, four of which are based in the region, and feel really excited that this will make a transformational difference to the quality of our school facilities over the next few years.
I visited the North Wales Women’s centre in Rhyl to see the excellent work they do and attended, with other CEOs, a lunch meeting with the Permanent Secretary, Derek Jones to discuss some key issues facing the public sector. There was a bit of laughter when we noticed that our meeting was being filmed, having agreed it would be ‘Chatham House Rules’!
The Leader of the Council and I have completed a round of staff roadshows on ‘Sharpening our Act’ and I have spoken about the same issues to all our middle managers. These sessions are crucially important because staff must be given the opportunity to understand why further change is necessary.
I had a little scare about my dog, Coco. We usually go for a long walk on Saturday’s on the hills and she sometimes disappears into the woods to search for things. Well, she came back with her tail between her legs, really quiet and blood poring out of her mouth. She then wouldn’t eat or drink and we ended up at the vets. It seems a sharp object had caused damage to her throat so she had to have three different injections to reduce the pain and help with the healing. She’s started eating now so getting back to normal.
March 10, 2014
I enjoyed a live screening of Coriolanus at the Scala. The performances were excellent and the story a very useful reminder that a headlong nature can lead to self-destruction. It was good to see the theatre so full; the Scala experience is so much better than your ‘bog standard’ cinema.
I am currently reviewing the number of visits I have to make to Cardiff, as part of my personal effectiveness appraisal. I usually travel for about eight hours to attend a meeting of say two hours. I’ve decided that this is only justified if my attendance is really necessary and makes a difference to the meeting. This means cutting out those meeting where my attendance is ‘expected’. As if to make the point one of my journeys during February coincided with the storms. The journey to Cardiff was fine (only four hours) but the return was full of experiences. I left Cardiff at 2.30pm and arrived home at 10.30pm.
The six local authority chief executives in North Wales meet every six weeks to discuss common issues. There is trust between us that has been built over time and good working relationships. At our February meeting we all reported that the financial position for our councils is looking very difficult from 2015/16. I have set out how Denbighshire will approach this challenge in my paper ‘Sharpening our Act’, which I’m currently presenting at staff roadshows for discussion. Ironically, the ‘Williams Report’ has had the effect of ruling out local government reorganisation for the next few years, allowing us to focus on delivering our local priorities without distraction.
Apparently three of the secrets for living a long life are red wine, owning a dog and getting your heart pumping fast for a minimum of 15 minutes a day – a reminder that I need to start getting on my bike.