Chief Executive's Blog

March 2017

Hello again everyone:

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure and that distinction was never better illustrated than last Friday when I, along with others from the council and public sector bodies, attended an event which examined ways of stopping many of today’s social challenges before they start.

The daylong event was held here in Moray under the banner of the Moray Community Planning Partnership although the prime mover was the council’s corporate director of education and social care, Laurence Findlay.

Laurence was also one of the keynote speakers, along with NHS Grampian’s depute director of public health Chris Littlejohn; Helen Budge, director of children’s services in Shetland, and Jonathan Sher, an independent consultant and a former policy director of Children In Scotland.

The event provided a great deal of food for thought in terms of early intervention and identifying, at critical stages in a child or young person’s development, potential issues likely to emerge in the future – both to the individual’s detriment and that of the wider community.

Education, health, poverty, domestic violence, crime, social inclusion and employment were just some of the issues that were discussed as part of the programme for the day which highlighted not only the social consequences of non-intervention but also the longer-term financial costs.

I was also pleased to attend another event held by the social work corporate parenting team where I learned about the great work that our foster carers and adopters do with and for Moray’s looked after children. It was a delight to have an informal chat with the youngsters themselves, many of whom have experienced extreme difficulties in their short lives but who are flourishing thanks to the support and encouragement they are receiving.

One way or another, children have featured prominently in the business of the past few weeks which also saw the publication of the Care Inspectorate’s report on the Moray Community Planning Partnership’s children’s services which identified many strengths and also recognised the hard work and dedication of staff across the various partner agencies.

However, it also highlighted areas for improvement and all the partners have accepted the findings and recommendations contained within the report and, even before its publication, we have been working together to address the issues which the inspection team have identified.

On a different tack, you will know from previous blogs that I am absolutely committed to making Moray Council a great place to work where we can all do the best we can for the people of Moray. So I am a great supporter of all the work we have been doing on workforce culture and really hope that the changes we have made are starting to make a difference.

I was very pleased to hear what the team have learned from their visit to the libraries service which receives excellent reports from both its staff and its customers. They have worked hard on communications, ensuring there is transparency and an opportunity for all employees to be involved. I was also pleased to hear that they regularly celebrated success, from a simple thank you to wider recognition. Staff all support each other in their role and I hope that the development of a toolkit will provide the rest of us with ideas that we can also adopt within our own particular services.

The past month has seen me involved in a variety of meetings, both at home and away, one of which saw me head north to Shetland for the latest meeting of the Convention of the Highlands and Islands where it is always good to get the opportunity to exchange view with officers and members from other local authority areas where we have many issues in common.

I also had the pleasure of a visit from Fiona Lees, who is chief executive of East Ayrshire Council and who chairs the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives in Scotland of which I am honorary secretary, and I also met with Christine Lester, chair of the Moray Integrated Joint Board for Health and Social Care.

Meanwhile, the transition board has been continuing its work in paving the way for the new intake of councillors and was instrumental, along with my colleague Mark Palmer and the elections team, in arranging Saturday’s well attended information session for prospective election candidates. Over the new few weeks the board will also be drawing up an induction programme for new councillors joining us after the May 4 elections.

Finally, although spring may not be in the air quite yet, there is much to look forward to with lots of local events in the weeks and months ahead, beginning with the Elgin Musical Theatre’s production of Oliver at the town hall this Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I hope that you will join me in finding the time to give them all as much support as you can.

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