Saturday, 7 September 2013

Breckland Council senior staff turnover

My comments to Breckland Council meeting regarding turnover of senior staff on Thursday 5th September 2013:

There are some here today who, upon learning that several senior officers are leaving an authority branded that authority “rudderless”. I speak of course of recent Conservative comments regarding Norfolk County Council. However, if we were to compare the percentage of Breckland officers leaving, or already left, versus that of the county, perhaps we should be mulling the loss here of not just our rudder, but also our steering wheel and sails.
Mr Chairman, I find it troubling that this authority has been left in a position where it is making what are ultimately rushed decisions, due to the fact that another authority now, understandably wants its Chief Executive back. For a temporary arrangement, this has gone on for quite some time with no apparent progress made in the interim. And if progress has been made, we’re certainly not being told about it as a Full Council and I am left to make my own assumptions.
But, Mr Chairman, we’re not just facing the loss our Chief Exec on this occasion, we faced the loss of the previous one not so long ago, and we’ve got the added complication of the second in command going as well. A rather significant loss to this Council given that individuals immense knowledge and experience –(incidentally, this may be perhaps a pertinent time for me to wish him well for the future and congratulate him on his promotion).
But Mr Chairman, further to these two positions, I’m aware of the loss of several very good members of staff during my time on this council in the past two years.
Which leaves me to conclude, isn’t it time Mr Chairman that we undertook as a Council to review the reasons for Brecklands staff turnover? Something’s clearly not right, and if indeed the new Leader wants to move forward on a solid footing, we need to ascertain this information. So I’d like to propose that as an amendment to this recommendation.

Log of activities undertaken; August 2013

Councillor Terry Jermy; Log of activities undertaken

A round-up of activities undertaken as the Norfolk County Councillor for the Thetford-West Division and Thetford Town and District Councillor for the Thetford Saxon Ward

Telephone: 01842 750722 (Home) / 07742157967 (Mobile)
Twitter: @CllrTerryJermy

August 2013

Friday 2nd August: Attended County Hall to sign official papers to become a Norfolk County Councillor. Attended briefing at 1.30pm about a possible change in governance structure for NCC, I.e. a change from Cabinet/Leader to a committee model.

Saturday 3rd August: Assisted Jess Asato, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Norwich North with door-knocking activities around Sprowston.

Monday 5th August: attended Croxton Road Residents Association meeting - collected various pieces of casework from attendees, including queries about a new notice board that the group want to erect (Breckland currently saying group must pay £360 for advertising consent), concerns about children cycling along Croxton Road etc.

Tuesday 6th August: Admin day at home, catching up with various emails, letters and voicemails.

Thursday 8th August: at 9am I met with Paul Groom, NCC Highways officer for the Western area. Discussed locals concerns in relation to footways and roads. Pleased to hear that £100,000 of improvements to pathways around Elm Road & Fir Road have been factored into works schedule, albeit for 2014/15 financial year. Discussed how to go about getting other areas factored into the work programme. At 10am I attended the monthly Safer Thetford Action Group (STAG) meeting to discuss issues relating to crime and anti-social behaviour locally.

Thursday evening: Attended the Thetford Labour Party thank-you get together for everyone that helped with the Thetford-West by-election campaign.

Friday 9th August: At 10am I attended the first meeting of the new Town Council Committee that will be taking forward plans for the Charles Burrell School site. Remit of the committee agreed as; “To source as much data as possible to aid Full Council in its decision making regarding the Council’s involvement with the future of the former Charles Burrell High School site. The Committee will look at the feasibility of short-term and long-term uses and initiate the creation of a business plan”. I was delighted to be elected as Chairman of this new committee.

Monday 12th August: Attended Abbey Tenants and Residents Association meeting at 4pm – discussed local issues of concern including dog-fouling and play areas. Stayed to discuss the new project to tackle fly-tipping across West –Thetford. Thetford Community Association have been asked if they will line-manage this person.

Tuesday 13th August: Spoke to officers at Breckland Council regarding plans to re-draw the boundaries for the areas that Breckland Councillors represent and submitted some thoughts via email. Attended Town Council Planning Committee at 7pm.

Wednesday 15th August: Working from home – filing paperwork, responding to emails, letters and telephone messages.

Thursday 16th August: Meeting of Town Council Marketing & Communications Committee at 3.15pm. Discussed the new website to promote Thetford’s heritage and attract tourists – Thetford’s Great. Very exciting development. After this I had a meeting at County Hall with Victoria McNeill, the Head of NPLaw – the legal services aspect of Norfolk County Council. Discussed NCC Code of Conduct, including the register of interests, the NCC Constitution, how Freedom of Information requests are dealt with and how NP Law provides legal services to the County Council and district councils.

Tuesday 20th August: First official NCC meeting today – Cabinet Scrutiny Committee. I am not a member of this committee but attended to observe the proceedings. They discussed the ruling administrations vision for NCC and the County – available to view and comment on.

Spoke with EDP journalist regarding my thoughts on William Nunn resigning as Leader of Breckland Council – not a totally unexpected move on his part. However, concerning that Breckland is currently without a permanent Chief Executive – it is sharing Trevor Holden with two other authorities; South Holland and Luton (a unitary authority). Added to this, the long-time employee, and current Deputy Chief Exec – Mark Stokes, has also announced that he is resigning. Significant changes in experienced personnel given budget challenges that Breckland faces.

Thursday 22nd August: Second meeting of Charles Burrell High School committee – full attendance by Committee members and two representatives from Norfolk Property Services (NPS) in attendance. Very fruitful discussions regarding a possible way forward

Friday 23rd August: Progressed two casework issues relating to housing. Two people in the St Margarets Crescent area are due to be made homeless after their mother died and the Flagship tenancy cannot be passed to them – liaised with Breckland Council Housing Team and advised them of correct course of action – which they are now undertaking. Separate to this, dealt with a housing issue for a resident who is currently ‘sofa-surfing’ and has nowhere to live. Spoke to Breckland Housing Team and requested that they interview her properly and offered to attend and sit in on the interview.

Monday 26th August: Casework progressed including; reporting state of St Martins Way road to Norfolk County Council, complained about Redcastle shrub-beds to Breckland Council. Chased Flagship Housing on the state of the Dane Close garage block. Reported house at Ash Close where their hedge was completely blocking the light emitting from the street-light, reported dips in pathways and ground in this area to Breckland. Reported to Thetford Town Council that complaints had been received from residents near to the London Road allotment site after allotment holders were visiting the site very early – i.e. 4am!

Friday 30th August: Dealt with casework on behalf of a resident of Rowan Close regarding a noise complaint as Flagship have been undertaking work on a property near to her house but commencing noisy work very early in the day. I messaged Flagship to ask if a later start time could be considered and asked that residents are informed in future prior to work commencing.

Saturday 31st August: Today I helped run the Thetford Community Association fundraising stall at the Thetford Fun Day on Melford Common. I was joined by fellow Norfolk County Councillor for Thetford Denis Crawford (UKIP) – who says Councillors from other parties can’t work together!! We had a good chat about Council matters throughout the day and spoke to numerous members of the public about issues whilst raising money for the charity.

Sunday 1st September: Spoke to EDP journalist regarding a fire that occurred in the Dane Close garage block on Saturday 1st September. Explained that Flagship Housing must come up with a better approach to dealing with the garage blocks in the short-term whilst they work on a long-term solution. We cannot allow the garage blocks to become ‘no-go’ areas.

Spent Sunday progressing with emails, telephone calls and other casework matters.