Since early 2022, I have served as the Chief Executive of both Rochford District Council and Brentwood Borough Council.
The two authorities decided to form a unique partnership that would develop a strategic alliance between their councils.
These are two councils and two areas of Essex that have their own distinct voice and character. However, they also share many of the same qualities and values, and that is what we have tried to build on.
The spirit of partnership was already present as both councils are members of the South Essex Councils (formerly known as the Association of South Essex Local Authorities (ASELA), which works to improve prosperity and wellbeing in our region by closer cooperation.
As Chief Executive, one of my key objectives is ensuring that we are providing the best possible value for money in terms of serving our communities. At a time when money is tight, how can we ensure our budgets are focused on delivering the necessary services and support that residents need?
Part of this partnership initiative is about sharing operational service delivery. In our ‘back office’ operations, we have two teams often undertaking similar tasks. By reviewing these services, we can improve efficiency, the quality of output and seek to make savings which can then be invested into frontline services.
Crucially we are doing this while retaining each council’s independence and the sovereignty of local decision-making and maintaining our individual identity for residents.
However, this partnership is not simply about financial savings and sustainability. It has to be driven by long-term strategic vision and purpose. It has to make us both better, stronger and raise our profile in a way that we could not do alone. It will also make us more attractive for inward investment helping both areas to thrive.
This has been an amazing and deeply rewarding challenge. As we move forward with our OneTeam approach we believe we are creating a strong alliance which will benefit residents in both districts and make greater use of the talents and creativity of our staff.
Jonathan Stephenson Chief Executive