Leader Council Speech
17 March 2015
Whichever way you look at it, Surrey is a county of size and scale.
And when you consider the breadth and depth of this Council’s work, it can be too easy to focus on the ‘big picture’, and lose sight of the important work we do on the ground.
That’s why today I want my Leader’s statement to focus on just that.
I want to highlight examples where we have really made a difference locally.
I want us to remember that behind all the facts and figures, it is our resident’s lives where we want to make a real difference.
Last month I set out the three goals in our new corporate strategy:
Improving the wellbeing of our residents,
Enhancing Surrey’s economic prosperity
And improving resident’s experience when using our services.
I’m going to base my examples around these.
Let me start with Becky.
Last year Becky was not in education, employment or training
Becky had a challenging relationship with her parents and was getting into fights. Her future was looking troubled.
This Council wanted to make a difference.
One year on, Becky has transformed her life and is on track to become a boxing coach with Guildford City Boxing Club.
Becky was supported on the path to her dream career by the County Council youth services, in partnership with Catch 22 – a social business that helps people turn their lives around.
Becky is now working towards formal coaching qualifications - and one day hopes to compete as a boxer.
Just one example of how this Council is improving the wellbeing of our resident’s by helping to give young people the best start in life.
Mr Chairman and Members, supporting young people is an important way in which we can all help in our local communities.
And there are many more Becky’s out there who we can work with.
However, there are many more ways that this Council makes a difference.
Take our roads.
Whether it’s due to winter damage or traffic jams – roads are vitally important to our residents - residents such as those in and around Redhill.
As Members will know, Redhill’s location near Gatwick and major roads means it offers great potential for economic growth – with big businesses such as Lombard and Balfour Beatty based in the town.
However, at the same time its location means that congestion is a major issue – causing hold ups and headaches for local residents.
This council wanted to make a difference.
That’s why, working jointly with Reigate and Banstead Council, we are investing over 4 million pounds to improve the town centre.
And just a few weeks ago Redhill’s one way system was opened up to two-way traffic – which will speed up people’s journeys through the town centre.
And over the next few months we will make even more improvements. To roundabouts, bus stops, bike facilities and pedestrian crossings.
These changes will help unlock Redhill’s economic potential– making the town an even better place to live, work and do business.
Just one example of how this Council is enhancing economic prosperity.
Maintaining and improving the County’s roads is one of this Council’s biggest jobs.
But we also deliver a whole host of smaller services – which may not be as visible as major road schemes, but are just as vitally important to people’s lives.
Services such as those provided by our County Coroner – responsible for investigating any violent, sudden or unexplained death.
In recent years, our Coroner has struggled to find the right space to perform his important duties.
This Council wanted to make a difference.
Rather than develop new facilities from scratch, we bought the old Woking Magistrates Court – which had sat empty since 2011.
We have fully refurbished the building, turning it into a modern facility that meets the needs of those that use it.
There are private family rooms and meeting facilities – which provide a sympathetic space for those who have lost loved ones.
There is a ‘remote witness room’ – which allows vulnerable witnesses to give evidence, without having to be in the courtroom itself.
This new facility means the Coroner will no longer have to struggle to find suitable venues to hold inquests – which means savings for Surrey taxpayers.
But more importantly, the new Coroners Court will undoubtedly improve people’s experience at a very difficult and challenging time in their lives.
Just one example of how this Council is improving resident’s experience of our services.
Supporting young people like Becky, improving Redhill town centre and improving facilities for people at the new Coroner’s Court - three very different examples of the important work that we do.
And what do they have in common?
They show that, despite the huge increase in demand for our services
And despite our very difficult financial position,
That we can still make a huge difference to the lives of Surrey residents – especially when we work as One Team with our partners.
Chairman, before I close I want to highlight one last example.
Surrey is blessed with assets that are truly special in world terms.
Assets like the Brooklands Race Track – the oldest racing track in Britain. Home of the first ever British Grand Prix in 1907.
I’m delighted to confirm that Brooklands Museum will undergo a significant redevelopment – thanks to support from donors, including the County Council and 4.8 million pounds from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
These improvements will allow the Museum to attract many more visitors each year than ever before.
But they will also bring significant benefits to Surrey residents.
The number of school visits will increase by 100% - allowing future generations to be inspired by the past,
Giving children the opportunity to embrace science, technology and engineering – the skills Surrey businesses need.
And a new training programme will teach conservation skills to local volunteers – adding to the near 800 people already volunteering at Brooklands.
Chairman and Members, I’ve been personally inspired by the vision and ambition of the Brooklands project – and I hope you have too.
So let’s take a moment to forget the national politics dominating our daily lives and the news bulletins each day.
Let’s look for more ways we can work together, and with our partners make a real difference at a local level.
I’m sure that if we keep our foot firmly on the pedal,
We can continue to drive through change,
And together to ensure sure Surrey residents are first to the chequered flag.