Announcements of the Leader of the Council.
As we enter the final year of this Council Term, I am sure that we are all looking forward to next May! Some more than others! I need to bring to your attention a real and serious concern that the Chief Executive Paul Wilson has brought to the attention of myself and Deputy Leader, Councillor Sue Hobson, with regard to the problems of recruiting staff at this morning’s CEX meeting. Paul is unable to be with us this evening because he is on Lord Lieutenant’s duties. The Authority, like many other Local Authorities in the Country is facing serious recruitment issues and in addition in retaining staff. This issue has been raised in circulations by the LGA and DCN. This is yet another casualty of the Pandemic.
The latest loss is the Legal Services Manager, Lee Gardner who is moving to a neighbouring Authority and we can only wish him the very best for his future. We are currently without an Audit Team, adverts for posts are having to be sent out on more than one occasion due to a lack of applications or persons unsuitable for the position advertised. You will be aware of the problems that Karen faced in recruiting much needed and qualified accounting staff. Fortunately we have been successful in securing the services of a good Officer to replace Paul Frith. We thank Paul for his hard work and indeed all other staff who have worked hard for this organisation but for different reason have left us. Not only is the cost of living having an effect, but the main issue is the fact that the Private Sector can afford to pay more for our valuable staff, and who can blame them if they move on for financial reasons.
It is vital therefore that we look after our present staff, and whilst this message has been put out by me on previous occasions, I have to say that there is an additional need now due to the extra the pressures that our staff are under and I have to appeal to you once again to consider if the email or question is necessary. I note for example an exchange of emails between certain Members and James when I came back of annual leave. It was patently clear from the content of his email that James was under high pressure to get reports completed for the annual meeting, and now sadly, he has had to depart to Ireland for a family funeral. I am sure you will agree with me when I say that our thoughts are with him.
There is now additional pressure on Steve Capes Team due to the fact of Government providing this Authority with £1.9million to spend up to 2025 under the Shared Prosperity Fund. A three tier Prospectus has to be raised as to how we spend such monies and initially the thought is that this should cover the themes of:
1. Towns & Public Realm
My strong view is that we should follow the Peak Leader route and support our rural communities. More information will be provided to Members on this in the very near future by way of a Workshop on 7th June. This stream of work for Steve and his Team comes on top of other much pressured and time limited work such as the Levelling Up Fund Bid by Ashbourne Town Team, and of course the Cinema project in the Western Gateway to Matlock.
Members, let me make it clear to you. The Chief Executive, Councillor Sue Hobson and I are really concerned for Officer capacity. More so now than we were previously due to the number of staff that have left and the difficulty in recruiting. We have to look after the current staff and make them feel wanted and valued. So Members, please give more thought and consideration as to how you would like to be treated if you were under the cosh with the pressures of work. Think twice before you press the send button to ask a number of questions. Paul is to bring a report to Council on this topic in July.