I HAVE the pleasure of speaking at Staff Conference today where we’ll be looking at the progress made in the past year – and looking ahead to the future.
Part of that will inevitably be about the Town Centre Masterplan which was approved by Cabinet last week.
But equally important is some of the work that we’ve been doing internally to look at our Co-operative Council model and test that it remains fit for purpose.
We are now six years into our journey so it was an appropriate time to take stock, step back from the day-to-day work and challenge ourselves to look at what is working, and what is not. It has proved a useful exercise.
The Co-operative Council model remains entirely valid for us and there’s no question of that being abandoned.
When people elsewhere ask me what makes Oldham different, I tell them that it is great people – and the way we do things together.
I explain that our approach starts with us all recognising our shared problems or ambitions. Then we all sit down together to look at what each of us needs to do in order to get a better result that benefits the borough.
We have many examples of where this has produced some fantastic results but – looking at the model – we also came to realise that for some people the language doesn’t work or ‘land’ as easily as it needs to.
It is not obvious, for example, to a newcomer to the borough what we mean by being a Co-operative Council in practice.
That’s why we’re going to be explaining co-operative working in a different way from now: one that we think is simpler, self-explanatory and works across all kinds of audiences and platforms.
Whatever we are doing – from delivering everyday services to improving people’s lives or helping the private sector to grow our local economy – there’s a simple formula that explains how we do it, and what is required of each participant.
It is #ourbit #yourbit #result
#ourbit is what Oldham Council is doing or contributing to help improve something
#yourbit is how local people, businesses and partners are helping to make change happen
And the #result is how we are all benefiting from working together.
Here’s a simple high-level example of that in action – Get Oldham Working.
#ourbit was to come up with a plan in 2013 to try and create new employment-related opportunities for local residents; attempting to link them better and smarter to businesses.
#yourbit was the local firms who have come forward with hundreds of offers of new jobs, apprenticeships and work placements – and the residents who stepped up seeking advice and assistance.
The #result is that by the end of last month a fantastic total of 6,264 new opportunities have now been created for local people. Business and people have been matched together by our free recruitment service that also removes both the stress and costs of recruitment for all sides.
That also means many families’ bottom lines and their prospects have been improved – and that means new money and spend injected into our local economy; increasing the confidence of residents and business alike. Everyone is benefiting.
At the end of the day, being a Co-operative Council is about an informal contract which needs lots of different people and partners across the borough to muck in. This new way of explaining how it works – and what is in the terms and conditions – works in a much simpler way.
We’re also using this new approach with all our staff to get them to look honestly at the service they are providing and be able to ask the right questions about it, and test whether it is truly co-operative, or if something is wrong.
You will see plenty of examples of this new approach in the latest edition of Borough Life (pictured, right) which starts hitting doorsteps next week.
The simple aim is to make it easier for people to understand how they can play their part in making things better – and that has to be a good thing for everyone.