Category Archives: Chief Executive blog

Young riders in City Park for the start of stage 3 of the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire

Chief Executive’s blog – June 2017

It’s been too long since I reflected on our work. It has been an extraordinarily busy period. I have kept up with covering my daily activity on Twitter. But I have missed this wider opportunity to communicate with you all.

With the awful events in Manchester at the forefront of my mind I want to thank all our staff. Whether you worked with schools to provide support for young people, spent time in communities and with younger residents listening and reassuring, were deployed as a special as part of the intensified policing, attended the many multi faith and cross community vigils, or got on with the day job whilst the threat level was ‘critical’, you played a part in keeping our communities close, safe and united.

Bradford remembrance after Manchester bombing
Bradford remembrance after Manchester bombing

I want to pay tribute to our health colleagues at Bradford Royal Infirmary who tended to a significant number of wounded Bradfordians arriving at A&E through the night of the bombing, and to police colleagues many of whom have worked twelve-hour six-day shifts over the last week. We hold the 22 who died, the many grieving, wounded and distressed, and the city of Manchester in our thoughts. We stand together.

General Election on Thursday, 8 June

The events in Manchester suspended campaigning in the General Election. But the election date remains Thursday, 8 June. There has been no let-up in the hard backroom work getting everything ready for polling day. The elections team and I normally have six months to prepare for such a significant event. This time we have had six weeks. The elections team have been flat out. Some have had to cancel long planned holidays. They are a small, dedicated and great team.

Elections staff
Elections staff preparing ballot boxes for the general election

Of course their numbers swell to over a thousand for polling day and the count itself.
If you are taking part this year – getting up ridiculously early to set up and open the polling station for 7 am sharp or having a sleepless night to work at the count – thank you.

I know you will take very seriously our responsibility to ensure everyone who is entitled to has the opportunity to vote, free of undue pressure, and that every vote is counted accurately. As we know, elections are lively and hotly contested in our District. I see this as a sign of a healthy and vigorous democracy in action. We are also dedicated to helping ‘promote the vote’ in the run up to polling day and I encourage everyone to exercise their democratic right to vote!

A few highlights – Tour de Yorkshire

But I want to turn now to just a few of the highlights of the last few months. Our delivery of the Tour de Yorkshire was a triumph. Some 400,000 people crammed onto village streets, rural lanes and iconic climbs such as Haworth Main Street. Bunting, land art and impromptu street parties were the order of the day. And who can forget the umbrella tree in Lister Park? Two of our pieces of land art – the now famous Addingham Ducks and Branwell and the Bicycle (celebrating two hundred years since the invention of the bicycle and of Branwell’s birth) have been shortlisted in the TdY land art competition. Go to the Tour de Yorkshire website and vote for one of them! I saw first-hand just how hard people worked to make the event a success – they did us proud.

Praise for how we keep children safe

Recognition of the strength of our team work also came in the inspection of our partnership work on domestic abuse and its impact on the lives of the children of our District. If you haven’t read about the report of the ‘joint targeted area inspection‘ team it is worth doing so. It made me proud of what we do. The report speaks of the commitment of front line workers to serve the best interests of children, of low turnover and high morale amongst social work staff, of great partnership work focussed on the needs of the child, and a quality of work which is making a positive impact on vulnerable children’s lives. The inspectors also commented on the scale, complexity and challenging nature of much of the work. And of course there was learning. We are not complacent. We will address the points raised and make improvements. But across the trade press – the journals that cover our business – there was widespread recognition of just how strong our work is.

Congratulations to Sue Dunkley, our HR Director. She is officially the public sector’s HR Director of the year! This is great news for Sue and Bradford. She was nominated by some of our Future Leaders who conducted a very sophisticated promotional campaign which got everyone talking about what’s happening here in our organisation.

And finally huge thanks to our refuse collectors and customer service staff. They are part way through implementation of significant changes to how and when we collect the bins. We are introducing ‘all in one recycling’ where residents can now recycle more and put it all in one bin. We are also moving over to ‘alternate week collections’. This isn’t an easy change to make. But it’s happening and being handled – on the whole – extremely well.

Waste and recycling advisors helping with the changes to bin collections
Waste and recycling advisors helping with the changes to bin collections

Best wishes

Kersten

PS, as always, for more regular updates, you can follow me on Twitter: @kersten_england

Gearing up for the general election

There will be a general election on Thursday 8 June 2017. If you live in the Bradford district, here is the information you will need to make sure you can vote.

How to register to vote

If you are already registered to vote, you do not need to register again to vote in the general election. If you are not registered to vote, you will need to register by Monday 22 May to vote at the general election.

The quickest way to register to vote is online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. Or you can contact our Electoral Services team on 01274 431360.

How to vote if you will be away on 8 June

If you will be away on 8 June, you can apply for a postal vote or you can appoint another person to vote on your behalf by applying for a proxy vote.

The deadline to apply for a postal vote is 5pm on Tuesday 23 May and the deadline to apply for a proxy vote is 5pm on Wednesday 31 May.

Statement by Kersten England

Kersten England, Bradford Council’s Chief Executive and Acting Returning Officer, said: “Following confirmation by the House of Commons, our elections team are now gearing up for a General Election on Thursday, 8 June.

“I am confident that we will deliver a fair and robust elections process so that the citizens of Bradford District are able to exercise their democratic right to vote.

“We have started the process to identify around 240 polling stations across the district and appoint around 1,200 staff to ensure the 343,690 electors currently registered to vote in a Parliamentary election can cast their vote either in person or by post.

Cyclocross championships in Peel Park, Bradford

Chief Executive’s blog – January 2017

We are already half way through January 2017. I hope it’s not too late to say Happy New Year! I hope 2017 is a great year for you, your loved ones and for the Bradford District. I intend to do everything I can to make it so!

First of all I want to thank all our staff who worked over the Christmas holiday period. Whether out gritting, refuse collecting, providing services to elderly and disabled people, or being there for individuals and families in crisis, you kept the District running. As an example of the kinds of things staff contend with, I know that we and our partners dealt with a significant spike in domestic violence incidents, which is a depressing aspect of the Christmas holiday period.

The first few weeks back have been full on – from dealing with the ripple effects of the fatal shooting on the M62, to the liquidation of the Bradford Bulls. The meeting of the Council’s Executive last week was one of the most intense and thoughtful I have been involved in. The Council Chamber was packed with residents as elected members considered the potential closure of a residential care home, changes to payments to foster carers, the potential closure of Queensbury swimming pool and the introduction of car parking charges in some of our town centres. This is what local democracy is about – taking responsibility for making difficult judgements about how the interests of the District are best served, and being prepared to be challenged in public about them. We know that there will be more meetings like this, as we work through implementation some of the tough choices that will be required in the coming year.

And in the midst of all of this there are some great things happening.

I spent much of the weekend before last in Peel Park watching the British Cycling National Cyclo-Cross Championships. It was a fantastic event and thrilling to watch as hundreds of cyclists, from teenage to over 70, careered up and down the increasingly muddy banking in the hunt for the coveted national winners’ jerseys.

I discovered that Bradford is the base for some of the brightest stars of the sport, who will undoubtedly be representing Great Britain in world championships. Thanks to our Principal Parks Manager Ian Wood and all Council staff who worked to make this event such a success – those in the know tell me that Peel Park is the best Cyclo-Cross event course in the country.

David Hockney, probably the world’s most famous living artist, and a son of Bradford, turns 80 this year. As part of the celebrations we will open a new Hockney Gallery at Cartwright Hall in July. Before that – again at Cartwright Hall – we will host items from the Royal Collection. This is a collection of extraordinary gifts given to the Prince of Wales in 1875 by over 90 rulers of the Indian sub-continent. This is the first time in 135 years that they will be collectively displayed.

Back to cycling and over the May Day bank holiday weekend the whole District will be caught up in the carnival that is the Tour de Yorkshire. The final day of racing on Sunday, 30 April begins in City Park and a large part of the route snakes its way around the District. We will be working with communities and businesses to decorate the route and get ready for a bumper holiday weekend. So plan your viewing spot and get that bunting out! Continue reading Chief Executive’s blog – January 2017

School children at the Love Bradford World Record Attempt

Chief Executive’s blog – October 2016

Our chief executive Kersten England has been writing a regular blog for staff. We thought you might like to read it too, so here is Kersten’s October blog.

This month’s blog takes a closer look at the workings of a Full Council meeting, celebrates some inspiring successes and shares a few things on the agenda for the coming weeks.

Full Council meeting, 18 October

Last week’s Full Council, on Tuesday, 18 October, was hectic! There was a huge breadth of topics covered and thoughtful debates about much of our work and what matters to people in the district.

There were petitions from residents about speeding cars in busy neighbourhoods, the proposed closure of a library and the introduction of parking charges at the St Ives estate. Councillors asked executive members questions about mental health services, parent governorship, care services, flooding, alternate week bin collections, and high speed rail services – to name but a few of the topics covered.

Motions were debated about unaccompanied asylum seeking children, smoking cessation, safer driving, proposed changes to parliamentary constituency boundaries and education priorities.

Bradford Council plan front pageCouncil also approved its priorities for the next four years, as described in the Bradford Council Plan. This is a must read! This plan will be the starting point for individual staff work plans, service delivery plans and crucially for development of our budget proposals for the next four years. The plan will direct our work.

The final item of the night saw Council approve the implementation of the changes to senior management. An elected member panel will be set up to appoint to the posts of Strategic Director – Corporate Services and Strategic Director – Place. Officer panels will be set up to appoint to the Assistant Director (AD) posts. I want to reiterate my appreciation for the sustained commitment and professionalism of staff who are directly affected by the changes we are making.

There’s been some great news since my last blog

Bingley Music Live scooped an award at the Yorkshire Gig Guide Grassroots Awards for outstanding established music festival. Congratulations team BML!

On Thursday, 15 September thousands of people, young and old, from across all the communities and organisations of the district stood in the sweltering late summer sun – and smashed the world record for the longest continuous chain of people making a heart shaped hand gesture (picture above). We are world record holders and that’s official!

The inspiration of participants on our future leaders programme, and billed as #LoveBradford, it was moving to hear the whole crowd chanting ‘we love Bradford’. For the thousand young people who took part and received a world record medal I hope it will become an ‘I was there’ moment. Our future leaders did a cracking job and learnt a huge amount about project management. Result!

The next day Bradford trended once more on social media – this time in support of our bid to host the Great Exhibition of the North. Each Friday the government department of culture media and sport (DCMS) threw the spotlight on one of the bidders to host the exhibition. The range and diversity of voices from within and outside Bradford speaking of their love of and support of Bradford was fantastic and humbling. We know we topped the popular poll! Of course we now know that Newcastle-Gateshead will be the host for the main events of the exhibition. We wish them well. We will take the energy, creativity and confidence of our bid and people’s support for it to deliver a great programme of events in Bradford in 2018.

We have just heard the fantastic news that in April 2017 Bradford will be one of the key hosts for the Tour de Yorkshire. It’s very exciting to know that we will be either a start or finish city for this prestigious three-day cycle race. The full route will be announced in December. After the warm welcome our district gave to the Tour de France Grand Depart in 2014, and the superb backdrop our Cow and Calf Rocks provided for the 2015 Tour de Yorkshire, 2017 looks set to be another vintage year for cycling in the Bradford District. I can’t wait! Continue reading Chief Executive’s blog – October 2016