There is a small amount of business on our agenda tonight due to our rapidly approaching elections, and I shall not report anything here which could prevent Council from publishing this statement in a timely fashion.
I hope the two reports this evening will receive Council support, they are important technical reports but they demonstrate to the council’s customers and officers how the council is working for them and I know this will please members.
The updated Communications Strategy sets out how this council is changing its approach and the way that it interacts with customers. Changes in peoples use of technology means HBBC now has to respond to new ways of engaging with residents, and this sets out our latest changes which will be kept under review and may be amended before 2021 if the need arises.
The Pay Policy Statement is an annual report and shows Council’s commitment to its staff, something that I’m sure all members will continue to support. There are two key areas that I would like to draw members’ attention to: firstly, the pay multiple which dropped from 5.22 last year to 5.15 this year as a direct result of increases in pay for the council’s lowest paid employees. This measure continues to move in the right direction and officers should be commended for the detailed work necessary to implement the nationally agreed pay award.
As this is the last Council meeting before the 2 May election, I would like to say “thank you” to several groups and individuals.
Firstly, I would like to thank the four mayors during my term as Leader: Janice, Richard, Ozzy and Jan for the service they have given to the borough during their time in office, and to Peter for this past year as Deputy Mayor. They have all represented Hinckley & Bosworth as excellent first citizens and made a difference with their support of local charities.
As we reach the end of our term in office we shall be saying goodbye to several councillors who will not be seeking re-election and I would like to thank them for their time in office and the work they have done in their communities. These are Councillors Bessant, Mrs Cope, Richards, Taylor, Witherford and Ward. I know that Cllr Bray will have some words to add about his non-returning members, and I would like to add a few personal comments for retiring members.
Next, I would particularly like to mention some officers and teams who it has been my pleasure to work with over the past four years. Firstly, Rob Parkinson, our Director of Environment and Planning, who will be leaving the council after the election after 37 years’ (27 of these at HBBC) service as a council officer, including most recently as part of the Strategic Leadership Team. I suspect, with his retirement plans, that Rob will not miss the emails he gets dealing with planning infringements and that he will find plenty to do with his time away from the Hub.
I would like to thank Bill Cullen, Julie Kenny and Sharon Stacey who also form our Senior Leadership Team for their hard work in managing the council. I hope they feel that I have always listened to their advice, even if I have not always agreed with it, and I thank them for their enthusiasm and commitment to our communities and the services that we provide to them.
Our ground care and refuse teams deserve special thanks, not just for the work that they do but for the way they sometimes go above and beyond what is needed. Keeping roads moving in Hinckley during last year’s snow and managing the memorial at the band stand in Argents Mead for Isla Tansey are just two examples.
Our Cultural Services and Estates teams deserve special thanks for delivering the leisure centre and although they probably have many interesting stories about the building journey, the one which I shall always remember is the flood incident in the main hall which could have threatened an on-time opening. Needless to say, all was fine in the end.
I would like to thank our Strategic and Community Planning Manager for all of her work with our communities, particularly enabling our rural communities to come together through the Parish Forum & Rural Conference, for our volunteers to be supported through community houses, for work with Next Generation and of course our VCS programme and for the work which has allowed me to celebrate with many of those volunteers at our annual Making a Difference awards.
Our events and town centre teams have worked to bring improvements to our main towns and they also put on some fantastic events not just in Hinckley but around our borough, the next major one being the Burbage Common Open Day on 12 May. These events help to lift our community spirit and also to keep our town centre businesses going with the footfall they bring to the town.
I would like to thank the Town Centre Managers for their hard work since joining the council to make some of these events happen, but also for the way they worked with Isla’s family to install the memorial stone which now sits in Argents Mead. This will remain as a lasting tribute to Isla and the joy she brought and will always remind me of her smile at the Making a Difference awards.
Our health partnership is delivering improved outcomes across our borough and our prevention work, particularly in helping with physical and mental health improvements, is contributing to a healthier borough. I would like to thank our Wellbeing and Development Manager for the work she has done with Dementia Action Alliance, something that many of us will encounter in our lives, but she is making life better for many people and their carers who are affected.
Our Health & Recreation Manager also has to be congratulated for the work that he and his colleagues do in helping to secure grants, advising different groups and picking out the volunteers who improve accessibility to sport for all. He also has a knack of picking those who go on to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year unsung hero awards; those individuals really do contribute a lot to our borough and it has been great for me to meet them.
None of this would work very well if HBBC didn’t have the resources to deliver these services for our customers, and I would like to thank the Head of Finance and his team for their hard work in making sure that the books stay balanced. We have had some very detailed conversations during the past few years and quite often we have held different opinions, but we have always worked to a satisfactory solution.
Without the support of the Executive Assistants to keep the engine ticking, I’m not sure any of this would happen, so a big “thank you” to them for their work, most of which is unseen by members of the public.
Without the support of our Democratic Services Manager, our local democracy wouldn’t run smoothly. Most things relating to member support in the council run well for councillors and that is largely down to her organisational ability. She is the go-to person for councillors and seems to know the constitution almost word for word so is able to provide advice and guidance to members whenever they need it.
I have highlighted just a few key services and teams that I have had the pleasure to work closely with, but my thanks go to teams across the council for the hard work they undertake to support our communities and local economy.
I would like to thank my fellow councillors and my executive colleagues in particular for their hard work in managing their portfolios, those members who have chaired our various committees and all members for their service over the past four years. We may disagree sometimes about what this council should do and how it should do it, but I know we all, councillors and officers, have the best interests of our communities at heart.
Our country is currently in a very strange place politically and although many of us are seeking re-election, this time none of us really know which of us will return after 2 May. So for those of you hoping to return who perhaps don’t make a return, there are many ways to serve your community, thank you for choosing to do so as a councillor. You may not get everybody’s thanks, but for what it’s worth, you have mine.
In his position statement, the Leader referred to highlights during the term of office and thanked those who had served as Mayor during that time, fellow councillors and officers. He paid tribute to Councillors Bessant, Mrs Cope, Richards, Taylor and Ward who were retiring as councillors shortly. A retiring member asked that his thanks be cascaded to all officers.