Chief Executive's Blog
Hello everyone and a very Happy New Year to all of you,
I would like to begin my first blog of 2017 by thanking those of you – and there were quite a number – who were on duty or on call over the festive period while the rest of us were enjoying an uninterrupted break. Your efforts are very much appreciated and I hope that you found time to be with family and friends and to have at least some time off.
This year will be no different from last in terms of the challenges that it will present and the focus over the next few weeks will be on finalising the 2017-18 budget and thereafter preparing for the handover of the present council to its successor in May.
As mentioned last month, much of that preparatory work is being undertaken by the cross-party transition board of elected members set up to smooth the way for the new intake of councillors at election time.
Another major piece of work currently under way – and which is being overseen by the transition board as part of its role – is the review of project management within the council.
Directors and heads of service have been extremely busy identifying the many and diverse projects, both current and pending, across the council with a view to establishing a consistent approach to the way in which they are managed.
Effective management is vital if projects are to be delivered on time and within budget and that will require a corporate approach to be adopted and consistency in terms of the governance of strategic projects.
It will also ease workload pressures while making a significant contribution to the savings that we require to make and, ultimately, help deliver the council’s priorities and those of the Scottish and UK governments.
The period prior to Christmas saw me involved in various meetings, including one with the Accounts Commission in Inverness and another with representatives of the Crown Estate in relation to its holdings as they affect Moray.
I was also in Edinburgh for a meeting of COSLA leaders ahead of Finance Secretary Derek Mackay’s budget statement the following day and I also hosted my annual meeting with officials from the Moray Trades Union Council at which we discussed a range of topics. I was also involved in teleconferences with my counterparts from the other north-east local authorities and also with colleagues on the North Education Alliance.
Away from the workplace, highlights included visits to the New Elgin Christmas fayre which was strongly supported by the local community as usual, the Kinloss Primary School Nativity play – to which I was invited by the soon-to-retire head teacher Robert Hair - and the sell-out Let It Snow event in St Giles Church in aid of research into motor neuron disease and inspired by Lucy Lintott from Garmouth, who was diagnosed with the condition at a very young age.
Although much of this month will be taken up with deliberations on the upcoming budget, I will also be welcoming officials from the Scottish Government’s housing and social justice directorate as part of the More Homes Scotland initiative which aims to deliver 50,000 affordable homes across Scotland over the next five years.
Moray has had a good record in delivering affordable homes in recent years and I look forward to assuring the government delegation of our continued commitment in that regard.