Space for Success

Reid Hall

A recurring theme in this blog is recognition of the achievements of the Angus Council team. Next week we are running an internal “Space for Success” event over two days at The Reid Hall in Forfar to communicate our transformation journey in a more tangible way.

Space for Success (SfS) has been created by a cross council team to showcase the major strands of our Transforming Angus programme and to share the stories of transformational change that are going on in all of our services.  It’s been prompted by a staff survey last year, which highlighted that many of our people knew little but wanted to know more about the change programme.

We all need to better understand why these huge organisational changes are necessary. The cuts we are facing are real. The increasing demands on our services are real.  Change is not a choice, but how willing and able are we to do it? Our Space for Success is just one part of the engagement we need to ensure our staff team is informed and part of the fundamental changes to the council in the coming years.

The event is running from 8am to 6pm on day one and from 8am until noon on day 2 to enable access outside the standard working day. In just one hour people will be able to check out a speaker, take in a movie at Cinema SfS (showcasing particular projects or initiatives), pop into Martha’s House (a social care themed exhibit) and still have time for coffee & cake at the Agile Angus Café.  There will be Wi-Fi – so coffee and work looks like an option for me some of the time… We hope to be streaming some live content on our council  You Tube channel. We haven’t tried this before so fingers crossed it works but if not, we’ll learn from the failure. Our long service awards and commendations scheme recognition event will take place on the afternoon of day two. We have also made meeting rooms at the Reid Hall available for team/group meetings.

Our Space for Success isn’t a shiny promotional space – it is intended as an open and honest engagement with staff about the why, what and how of the story so far.  It starts with an “Ask me anything!” session with me and the executive management team in the spotlight. That could be interesting! And, so you know, financial support from our partners and suppliers has made the event possible.


Schools and their community….


On Thursday morning I spent some time at Webster’s Theatre in Arbroath attending a joint meeting of our primary and secondary head teachers. At the start of a new year, and a new term, those familiar with the world of education will not be surprised to hear there was a buzz in the room, even with the council’s Chief Executive coming along to tell his audience how tough the year ahead will be in financial terms. And I did not miss that opportunity.

In the time allowed at the end of my session for Q and A a number of comments were made about the extent to which our schools are not as joined up as they could be with the council’s efforts to transform communities and in particular our community planning and engagement processes. There was, I think, a clear willingness to be more engaged with that work and to make a contribution.

As we refresh our Community Planning Partnership, and in particular the localities model, we need to make sure that we go beyond seeing our schools only as places for formal learning. They are at the heart of our communities in so many more ways. At the same time colleagues across the council need to think more about how well we are aligned with the efforts schools are making to give our young people the best possible opportunity to be happy, healthy, safe and successful.



I wrote this blog for my in-council intranet blog this afternoon but on refection a wider audience might be interested and so here it is..

Interesting comments from Mark Rogers, Chief Executive at Birmingham City Council and President of SOLACE UK, in today’s Municipal Journal. On partnership he says –

“This partnership malarkey is becoming too complicated for a simple soul like me who just wants to make a few friends, influence a few people and, in a shared enterprise, improve the lives of our residents. It all used to be so simple…”

Now, I am not saying I feel the same about us here in Angus, but I do recognise the sentiment.  We are encouraged to think in terms of partnership delivery a lot these days, voluntarily and on the back of legal requirements for example new health and Social Care integration Boards. And that is how it should be.

Sure enough shared burdens are lighter burdens. And getting rid of the inter-agency haggling and the nonsense we have suffered from for ever is bound to be good, and make the way ahead easier. But we do tend to replace the barriers to inter-agency working with new barriers seated in the heavy governance of partnership arrangements. Is that what Mark is talking about?

May be it’s just trust? If we had more trust of each other the need for excessive formalisation of the way we work together would be less necessary – not removed – just be less detailed? Does every marriage need a pre-nup?

The modern office…


Along with three colleagues I spent a couple of hours in Arbroath this morning at local company Journeycall – part of the ESP group – with their MD Theresa Wishart. This company, relatively recently moved to Arbroath, occupies newly remodelled premises on the Kirkton estate. The reason for the visit was to look at their offices with an eye to learning about what works and what doesn’t in the modern workplace to help inform our own mobile and agile developments at Angus Council. It would remiss of us not to look at the experience of one of the county’s most successful companies right here on our doorstep in creating a modern work environment. The use of space, provision of facilities for staff and the really powerful harnessing of technology was impressive.

It was also an opportunity to learn a bit more about this successful and growing firm who are specialists in the customer service and contact management field. See here for more –