Last Friday was my third Chamberlains. And, just like all the others, it was fantastic.
As we have come to expect, there was strong senior political and officer support (the Deputy Leader jointly MC’d with Nick Owen for the first half, whilst I had the after-dinner slot), but the focus was on the finalists and award winners themselves. Across the nine categories we heard about the many amazing things that colleagues do every day to make a positive difference to people’s lives – from helping the homeless to consoling the bereaved. Everyday acts that show the extraordinary lengths to which the best amongst us go in our shared mission to make Birmingham a city where every child, every citizen and every place matters.
The most poignant moment of the evening was the posthumous award made to the widow of Kevin Duffy whose three decades of service to communities through his various roles in our libraries brought tears to the eye.
And the funniest moment was Nick Owen’s risqué joke about the Halifax which I am, of course, too modest to repeat (in writing anyway).
So, a magnificent evening, the credit for which goes to our winners for showcasing the brilliant work they do, but also our organisers and sponsors without whom the Chamberlains would not be possible.
Categories, Winners and Sponsors:
Local Hero (sponsored by Amey)
Danielle Baker & Ruth Bowles
Leadership (sponsored by KPMG)
Special Recognition Award
Communities & Inclusion (sponsored by Wilmott Dixon)
Lighthouse Young people’s Centre
Collaboration & Partnership (sponsored by Veolia)
Employment & Skills Service Birmingham
Outstanding Customer Service (sponsored by Places for People)
The Funeral and Property Protection Officers
Team of the Year
Birmingham Control Centre
Employee of the Year (sponsored by Acivico)
Give them all a big round of applause!!!
And with the above still very much in the forefront of my mind, I also want to write about the considerable challenge that we have ahead in relation to the 2017/18 budget.
When faced with what might appear to be a modern day equivalent to Sisyphus and his dreaded Boulder, I am comforted by the Chamberlains because they remind me that we have so much talent and such a strong value base to draw upon across the City Council. And we’re going to need it – and more – because the hill that we’ve been climbing since 2010 has become a mountain.
Our in-year position is not what anyone wants it to be, but 2017/18 is another of those “annus horribilis” when we have another spike in the quantum of savings we need to make. This time, of course, the gradient is so much steeper because all the “easy” savings are long gone.
So, what are the messages?
There are three things I need us to focus on:
- Deliver your savings targets for 2016/17. If you don’t, then next year simply gets a whole lot harder just when we don’t need it.
- Make yourself familiar with the very-soon-to-be-published Vision and Priorities document that the administration has just signed off. It tells you all that you need to know about the future focus and direction of our work.
- Engage every step of the way with the budget formulation work that the Strategic Directors are personally charged with leading, supported by the wider Senior Leadership Team. We are, as you would expect, being closely guided by the Leader and Cabinet to ensure our planning aligns with the Vision and Priorities, but the heavy duty leg work to translate this framework into realistic savings ideas needs our collective brainpower.
You can expect to hear more from me about the steps we need to take towards setting a budget for next year (and beyond).
For now, just know that we are moving from the Alps to the Himalayas.