I've spent my first week on leave watching some great rugby matches with a bit of sightseeing in between, but watching rugby is why I'm on holiday. Also, I managed to find a decent gym so it couldn't be better. With the Internet, Skype and FaceTime, it's pretty easy to keep in touch and on top of things. The Sussex Control Project is an absolutely critical project this year and we have managed to keep this on schedule, despite one or two unexpected challenges along the way. Everyone involved, from our Project Team, Information Management Department (IMD), Estates and our Control staff in Eastbourne and Chichester continue to move this project forward, although I must say that I'm having trouble learning the new station numbers and call signs!
I've also been keeping in touch with our Chairman, as he is now looking at the Service's priorities over the next 12 months and we will be running a seminar in July to look at any implications of the Government's recent spending review. Having read the local newspapers, I could be back in England as they are full of stories about leadership challenges to the Prime Minister, immigration, interest rates and politicians’ expense claims. There was also a big demonstration in the city centre about the Syrian conflict with what looks like becoming an 'unresolvable ' problem.
Closer to home, one of the more popular destinations for British holidaymakers, Turkey, is also having some problems although the Government appear to be taking a firm line with the protesters. Despite these big issues, my own problems seem pretty insignificant, but I can't get a decent cup of tea anywhere. Everyone seems to be hooked on 'skinny' milk, which is simply pointless; either drink your tea or coffee without milk or use a decent Jersey full fat milk. It’s the same with all these absolutely awful 'low fat spreads', they are disgusting; either use butter or nothing. That's the one problem with all these coffee shops, some who allegedly don't pay their taxes but none know how to make a cup of tea; and they have the nerve to charge two quid to put a tea bag in hot water; scandalous and extortionate.
Managed to answer most of my emails and keep up-to-date on Fire Authority matters, the Chairman's first meeting with the Fire Services Management Committee and the draft response we are preparing to Sir Ken Knight's Efficiency Review. There is going to be a Select Committee into the review and as a Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) Board Member, we are drafting a submission to be considered by the Committee.
I've also got a guest blogger this week, so let me introduce Neal Robinson, Head of Community Risk Management, who wanted to give you a flavour of his week:
- Monday 17th - Attended the Borough Commanders meeting to update on CRM issues. I introduced my team Sharon Jakeman and Chris Fry who each look after three boroughs, and provide advice and support on how to target local risks using intelligence from 'the CUBE' (a tool that analyses a mix of information, including 'Mosaic' community profiling data)
- Monday also saw the start of training for a small group of our Community Volunteers who will carry out 'well-being' visits. This is a new venture that will help make some of our vulnerable people safer in their homes, checking on things like risks of falling / tripping.
- Wednesday 19th - Introduced one of the quarterly training events for the Community Safety Advisors and a small number of fire station staff. These have proved really useful events supporting boroughs in undertaking Home Safety Visits (HSV’s). Having worked as a Borough Commander myself, I have seen the great work done by everyone involved in making our local communities safer and we are always looking to extend what we do beyond fire safety to improve community well-being.
- Thursday 20th – Attended County Hall, Lewes for a meeting of the East Sussex Safer Communities Steering Group. I shall be representing Gary Walsh at this meeting that takes a multi-agency partnership approach to tackling community safety issues across East Sussex. In these times of diminishing budgets, sharing data, resources and funding are more crucial than ever to working toward common community safety goals such as reducing road deaths and injuries.
- Interspersed with the above, I have to get my head down and complete two high priority pieces of work. These include preparing a report about the next steps in the Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) process, and the other is to write up a self-assessment document for the forthcoming Operational Assessment - peer review challenge. I am also finishing some staff appraisals. I've always been keen on personal development, having had a specific training /development role on no less than three occasions! And as they say, if you support your staff to develop, then the organisation will grow and develop.
- And lastly as guest blogger I will, as is custom, throw in a bit of sport. I would like to give a pre-season mention to my team Liverpool (and hope we can turnover Chelsea this forthcoming season!).
Thanks Neal, a great piece and an insight into your work and the work of your team; if anyone else would like to contribute next week then that would be really helpful and would allow our guest to let others know a little about their role. Well, so far I've watched two rugby matches, one win and one defeat, but this weekend is the real test, so got to get ready and ensure the voice is ready to cheer on the team!