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