I’ve decided that now we have dealt with the pressures of this year’s budget, and before we start detailed work on next year’s, it is time to publish something for the bloggers and anonymous critics to really get stuck into.
I appreciate that Local Government has not traditionally been a particularly visionary environment – we have predominantly been reactive organisations, fire-fighting and managing scenarios as they develop, rather than being at the forefront of service development. As money gets tighter over the coming years, we are going to have to be able to make intelligence-led decisions about resource allocation, and we need a comprehensive framework from which to do this.
Following extensive consultation with council staff and partners, we have now published our ‘Vision,Mission, and Priorities’ – one A4 sheet which replaces volume upon volume of previous Corporate Goals, Sustainable Communities Strategies, and other piles of paper which nobody outside of Whitehall ever read.
Our vision is that we will build a Blackpool where aspiration and ambition are encouraged and supported. We will seek to narrow the gap between the richest members of our society and the poorest and deliver a sustainable and fairer community, of which our communities will be proud.
There is an acceptance that we cannot hope to change our destiny merely by wishing for it, only by working for it. Our mission is to work with the public, private and third sectors, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, to achieve this.
Our priorities are to:
- Tackle child poverty, raise aspirations and improve educational achievement
- Safeguard and protect the most vulnerable
- Expand and promote our tourism, arts, heritage and cultural offer
- Improve health and well-being especially for the most disadvantaged
- Attract sustainable investment and create quality jobs
- Encourage responsible entrepreneurship for the benefit of our communities
- Improve housing standards and the environment we live in by using housing investment to create stable communities
- Create safer communities and reduce crime and anti-social behaviour
- Deliver quality services through a professional, well-rewarded and motivated workforce
Now at this point, I suspect a small number of people have steam coming out of their ears, are preparing furious emails, letters to the paper, comments and counter-blogs, asking how the Council can hope to achieve any of this if we can’t get the Promenade/Comedy Carpet/Heritage Tram/Talbot Square/Pothole issues resolved (and I do not doubt there will be many more).
That, in many ways, is the point.
Without this overarching strategy, without a set of values to inform the work that we do, we end up with schemes which don’t quite meet anybody’s needs, which turn out to be imperfect, and don’t represent people’s original (and I don’t doubt, good) intentions.
There are some major conversations taking place at the moment about the future of different services. To have a framework within which to operate, those conversations would risk being held in isolation – now, thanks to the values and priorities, we will see joined-up thinking, and corporate decision making, and I think the town will benefit as a result.