I’ve just had my first holiday since taking over the leadership of the council back in December, it was much-needed.
On the one hand, it feels like I’ve been in the post forever. Yet on the other, it seems like it’s been only 5 (hectic) minutes.
It’s still not really slowed down and I’m loving every minute of it.
One thing I’ve grown to appreciate is just how hard-working staff are at the council. This was particularly brought home to me last week when we had such horrendous weather.
I was so impressed with the large number of workers who struggled to get in while the media were panicking and telling people to stay indoors.
Having such dedicated staff is invaluable to an organisation such as ours and so I wasted no time touring the Number One Riverside building to let staff know just how valued they are.
It took me some time and I was exhausted by the time I’d been to every floor but the supportive staff comments I’ve received since clearly showed that the gesture was much appreciated.
One thing I’ve been keen on understanding from the get-go is our relationship with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). I think it’s fair to say we weren’t on the best of terms, but that seems to be improving.
As part of the campaign to get our feet firmly back under the table, I asked councillors to let me know which GMCA committees they attended, what involvement they had and whether they reported their findings back to the rest of the council.
There’s more work to be done, but we’re moving in the right direction. Group councillors are now reporting (writing) back to me which not only keeps me informed but also helps them better understand what’s going on and play a more active role in GMCA decision-making.
Some of the councillors have relished the challenge and have taken great pleasure in the greater, more open regime which they consider to be more inclusive.
Another unexpected bonus of this détente is that I have been given a new GMCA brief which I now lead. Heading up the digital remit we were handed originally was never going to work. Heading up the economic brief is much better for me and the borough in general.
As well as our regular staff, I have been more than impressed with the apprentices we have working for the council.
I had hoped to meet some of them last week just to thank them for their hard work. The two I come into contact with regularly are a good example, hard-working, diligent and creative; they have the lot. Our scheduled meeting was cancelled because of terrible weather but they can rest assured it will be one of the first things I sort out on my return.
More information about Rochdale Borough Council's role in the GMCA.