Today was my first day at work as the Portfolio holder for Customer Service and Culture. First thing I had a chat with the outgoing portfolio holder Cllr Jim Smith, who has been elected as vice chair of the council. He's been doing a good job in the portfolio and briefed me on the developments. Then it was for a quick chat with the head of the department. Very important to me is the Customer Service brief. I think it's very important that we get every officer and worker at the council with a resident friendly attitude. Staff already go the extra mile for residents but the challenge is to make 100% sure that residents are "kept in the loop" at all times.
Then the Executive itself. The council reaffirmed it's commitment to look at closer working between the Northumberland and Cumbria fire brigades. We are looking at the possibility of merging some senior manager positions and a full merger. There are some problems about the finances of it but it's completely right to look at any saving that doesn't cut back on the front line.
We then looked at the petition opposing changes to the counties music service. This petition was posted before the current service review concluded and what I believe was the principle objection, the loss of an experienced music teacher, has been sorted as all staff have been found a role without any compulsory redundancies. It gave us a chance to see the breadth of the counties music service which is far more comprehensive than neighbouring services.
We then discussed some very exciting and alarming issues that were on pink paper (ie confidential) so I can't tell you. Needless to say, when it all comes out residents will be very happy and angry respectively. The administration is taking the initiative on both and doing a good job. All in all a busy day and it will take a while to get my head round what the council is doing and to get my vision for this portfolio across.