As years go, this one has gone – and boy, has it been busier than most. But all that work has resulted in some great achievements.
We have completed our single site move after much planning and a year of upheaval which has meant change for everyone. New ways of working, a new Civic Community Hall for all our meetings, solar panels, passive ventilation and the increased emphasis on car sharing. It has brought us savings and flexibility and, looking back, I hope you can see with me how vital it has been to take this action. There are still some issues as you would expect with a project of this scale – heating and car parking come to mind - but we are determined to sort these out.
2012 has also seen the adoption of the Core Strategy for Wealden, a crucial piece of planning policy which will guide development in the district up until 2027. It has been a tremendous achievement by our small team in Planning and Environmental Policy, supported by several other sections, and its significance is opening new areas of involvement for the council to help us create prosperity as well as protect our valued environment. This year has also seen us commence work on building new Wealden council houses for the first time in more than 20 years!
What won’t have escaped anyone at Wealden are the great changes taking place in the structure of the council. The actions outlined in the Transformation Programme are coming to fruition, and we have started to become the smaller, enabling council that the council envisages. The Joint Waste Partnership is a stand-out example of four local authorities coming together to increase kerbside recycling and make important savings for the future. And this month saw the creation of our shared Environmental Health and Licensing service with colleagues in Rother, following on the success of our shared Audit and Legal services.
Over the two year period ending April 2013, we will have seen well over 150 members of staff move to either the private sector or working in partnership with another authority. This itself may have been hard for some to come to terms with, but it has been crucial to achieving a stronger budget position. It should give us the strength we need to go forward, and continue to meet the needs of our communities.
This is why Vision 2015 is so important. It’s our way of making sure we can continue to meet these needs, expectations and duties, but in different ways. The five Vision 2015 workstreams have now produced a series of 31 recommendations – you can see these on the Vision 2015 section of the website. We will all, staff and members, get the opportunity to discuss these recommendations at workshops and staff meetings, and scrutiny committee in January.
2012 has been a tremendous year and we have achieved much at Wealden we can be proud of. I would like to thank every one of you for your commitment and hard work over the year. I hope you and your loved ones have a great Christmas, and a well-earned rest.
See you in 2013.
Chief Executive Wealden District Council