I was first elected in Kirklees in 1982 having previously worked for the council when I came out of the RAF in 1974.
Over that time I have held many positions culminating in my current role as leader of the council. I have worked with many Officers and Councillors, whereas the quality and dedication of councillors has always varied, I have found little variety in the quality and dedication of the Kirklees workforce, it has been almost constantly excellent. One need only to consider the number of ex-Kirklees workers doing well in other authorities, I doubt if any other authority can match the number of chief executives or senior officers doing well in other authorities who “learned their trade” at Kirklees.
It would be wrong, and much too long a task to single out any individuals, but I must thank specifically our current workforce, who have done a more than excellent job over the past couple of years in the face of a constant onslaught of cuts and other pressures. Few people realise the work that has been required as the workforce has shrunk significantly or the pressure that has put on our workers, workers that are constantly insulted by central government and the press.
I also must specifically thank the current Cabinet for their dedication and efforts over the past two years. On nearly every day of the week from early in the day till late evening six members were working in the office on their portfolios and helping each other and contributing to the cross cutting themes that contributed to the council policies. These six members have also been available late into the night and at weekends to explain our policy and direction to anyone who asked.
Cathy Scott has taken the Housing portfolio and made it a Home’s portfolio, advancing our strategy to create an organisation that delivers on all fronts. Steering the merger of Building Services and KNH, working with all involved to see a smooth transition into a service we could be proud of. Ensuring our strategy for creating more homes of all tenures, particularly homes that people can afford, she has also co-operated with other Cabinet members in our wider agenda and played a full role in developing the policies that keep people safe and tackling inequality.
Thank you Cathy
Steve Hall rose to the challenge to oversee significant developments to the speed and quality of decisions through planning committees – a thankless yet vital task in that very few members of the public understand the system and fewer still understand how vital development is for the future of the council and how much some perverse decisions were costing us. He also saw through massive changes in the Place Directorate, a department hit proportionally hardest by the cuts. Steve was tackling the costs of road maintenance and was keen to see us delivering more with less.
Thank you Steve
Graham Turner took on one of the most diverse and challenging roles in the Cabinet, that of Resources. A title that does not reflect the importance of the task, hard enough in normal times, but near impossible in “interesting times”. Not only do we have to keep an eye on council finances but managing incredible levels of “downsizing” including asset transfers, demanding hours and hours of patient negotiations. The Resources role touches nearly every aspect of the council, the very survival of the council is dependent on steering a financial plan, on making unpopular and tough decisions when required, and sticking to them.
Thank you Graham
Erin Hill is probably the youngest cabinet member Kirklees has ever had, but it does not show. Before joining the Cabinet she had taken on a “shaky” licensing committee, steering it towards being more aware of current problems, the way she tackled this entrenched committee demonstrated her ability to be an excellent cabinet member. She was much more than a breath of fresh air to children’s services at probably the most difficult of times for the service with all the failings reported from other authorities. She demonstrated an ability to absorb large amounts of information and translate the guidance into action.
Thank you Erin
It is very difficult to comprehend that Viv Kendrick is only one person. It would be very difficult for anyone to comprehend the changes to adult social services, the move to “New Council” let alone to steer them to success, at the same time being bombarded with numerous current cases that she tackled with gusto. Few could achieve the same results without the wealth of experience Viv has. The changes to adult services probably demand too much of one person, yet Viv also took on the role of chairing the Health and Wellbeing Board, in better times a role that would be a full time job for anyone, another role in constant flux.
Thank you Viv
Peter McBride probably demonstrates my biggest failure. Knowing that Peter’s wealth breadth and quality of understanding of economic development, apprenticeships, strategic planning and regional politics cannot be matched even by a number of people and despite Peter wanting to impart this knowledge to others, I failed to ensure that happened. This meant that Peter not only undertook one of the most difficult tasks this council has ever had, the LDF, he also made sure that Kirklees punched well over our weight at the region, policies that Peter developed have been accepted as regional policy.
Thank you Peter