I spoke a lot about the importance of strong political leadership when I became Leader of the Council a few months ago.
There’s lot of ways you can demonstrate this. Being clear about your objectives, making sure the Council’s policies and actions deliver them, never forgetting our promises to the electorate and residents. Deliver on that and residents will trust us to do what is right by them and spend their money as effectively as we can – so important in difficult financial times.
Of course you don’t lead an organisation like the County Council on your own.
Aside from the Leadership which at Cabinet level, through scrutiny and in their division councillors provide, there are our officers, experts in their field, led by our Chief Executive, Mark Lloyd.
As Head of Paid Service, Mark leads the Council’s workforce. It is an incredibly demanding, stressful and hugely responsible role.
His leadership also has to be strong.
One of the most important characteristics of a really good leader, I’ve always felt, is the ability to lead by example.
And when residents are finding life tough, and tightening their belts because money is tight, council’s can’t be out of step with what the people who pay for services are experiencing.
Those at the top, like Mark, are well rewarded for the difficult job they do.
So, it is very pleasing that Mark has chosen to lead by example, and yesterday announced he will be taking a voluntary 5% pay cut from the 1st July. Mark has also chosen not to take any of the pay increases to which he’s been entitled over the past three years. This makes his pay now 5% less than when he started at the Council in March 2008.
It’s an important act, and part of a general picture of wage restraint at the Council that demonstrates it the right thing. There won’t be any performance related pay increases at the Council this year, for example.
The County Council has a strong track record of financial management. But public expectation now goes beyond just good stewardship of public funds. We are meeting those expectations, walking the talk, and in doing so, we are demonstrating that we are doing right by residents.