Sep 13, 2016
Thanks, James [Councillor Jamieson], I’m delighted to be here at my first LGA Conference. When I was appointed to this role, I said that it was a great honour to be representing you all and leading on local government. And I meant it. Because my passion for local government isn’t just professional. It’s deeply personal. I grew up with local government. And I’m reminded of this every day by a photo hanging in my parliamentary office of my great grand father standing on the back of a cart in rural Cornwall. How my dad’s life chances, from growing up in near poverty, were transformed by a Grammar School Education… and the career opportunity that local government gave him. How that helped transform his outlook… … from starting off working in the town clerk’s office of the then Restormel borough council to ultimately becoming a chief executive of a London borough… … and, for a period, Controller at the Audit Commission. The insight into his work underlined to me the power of local government to be an incredible force for good – not as a distant, faceless bureaucracy, but, from the biggest unitary to the smallest parish council, as the heartbeat of the communities it serves. As the bedrock of our democracy, on which our people can build better lives. So I could not be more proud and pleased to be working alongside you. You live and breathe the issues affecting your local areas. And you’ve been harnessing this knowledge more effectively than ever to lead and deliver over the course of another busy and challenging year. I’m hugely grateful for all your efforts. In saying that, I’m under no illusions about that the challenges that you – and we as a country – face. A difficult financial environment. Big changes in demographics, lifestyles and technology. Growing pressures on services. There are no easy answers to these issues.