A year of work in progress – day 147

Day 147 – 1 September 2014

The seasons are changing. It was noticeably darker when I got up and it will soon be time to change into my winter wardrobe. Today I had another grand tour. I started in Spectrum, made my way to Meadowfield, turned back to County Hall and ended up in Chester-Le-Street. In line with current practice, I used a pool car.

I only had seven meetings today, four tier four managers, one head of service, the portfolio holder (who I hadn’t seen for six weeks) and a one-to-one with Bob. There was a lot of listening.

My journey in was a nightmare. The main routes were blocked with road works and the back routes were blocked with tractors. It was a bit like Clockwise with John Cleese but I got to my first meeting with a minute to spare.

Shealagh is the Principal Area Action Partnership Coordinator for the East Durham AAP. She was proud to say that it is the largest (by people but not by area) with ninety two thousand people. Their main focus has been around projects that help to maintain the social fabric such as supporting volunteers, helping with community buildings and supporting vulnerable people. As an example, they have a programme around first aid for debt management, mentoring people to help them avoid getting into difficulties and changing mind-sets from instant gratification to a more delayed satisfaction approach. They’ve also developed an innovative approach to apprenticeships and traineeships working in social housing and engineering. There is lots of partnership working.

Michael is a Health Protection Manager, part of the Environmental Health team. He told me about his role in helping small businesses to understand the legislative environment in which they are trading and helping to keep the public safe. He helps them through the morass of legislation, demystifying it and explaining what they have to do to remain compliant. This work covers areas such as food hygiene, health and safety assessment (in areas not covered by the Health and Safety Executive) and tattoo parlours but there were other aspects that were a bit more unusual including dog breeders and private water supplies (there are quite a lot in the dales).

Graham is the Performance & Planning Manager in Regeneration and Economic Development. His role is focussed on improvement, driven by staff expectations and tasks / actions that are in the service plan. His team protects the people from all the noise (he used the word mess) that gets in the way of delivering what they came in for. I could have done with another half hour with Graham.

Finally, Julie is the Countywide Strategic Manager One Point but I’ll tell you about her tomorrow.

Learning points for today: We need to be intolerant of intolerance; sewage fairies sort out all of our problems; this week is puppy awareness week; the A19 links communities and splits communities; petting farms must house only indigenous species though llamas and alpacas count; garden centres can be dangerous places and; I’ve inspired someone.

Today’s enjoyment rating 7/10 – too many stressful deadlines.

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