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If we want to make good on our corporate priorities and scale the financial challenge ahead of us, we cannot go back to how we once did things.

Speaking at the Council of the Future Board, Kenneth Lawrie, Chief Executive, made clear “pace, dynamism and accountability” were needed to help us hold onto the common purpose, collectivism and social partnerships created during lockdown.

“We cannot continue to do things as we did previously. We need to significantly up the pace of change and deliver our 10 priority projects. To do that, we need timescales and milestones and a clear line of accountability. We also need to take people with us, because cultural and organisational change go hand-in-hand with transformation and making savings.

“We cannot underestimate the challenge ahead of us. This is also a challenge for Elected Members in terms of the decisions that will need to be made. This is a new way of working and a new way of doing things. We all need to embrace that.”   

At the meeting, held in October, members also heard how the new engagement team, headed by the Senior Responsible Owner of the Communities workstream, Kenny Gillespie, would play a key role in delivering the Communities priority by helping us get a better understanding of what people want on the ground.

Engaging with communities

Discussions also centred around the need for the Council to stop doing things communities no longer need or want us to, as well as the important role our new governance will play in delivering results.

Kenneth said: “We need to achieve a fundamental shift in our relationship with our communities. We need to innovate, get rid of bureaucracy, and operate in a different way. East Ayrshire has gone a long way towards that and has broad political support but, in my view, many councils have not bridged that gap.

The Corporate Plan gives our statement of intent – that we want to work differently with our communities. The challenge is affecting the change in the Council to do that. That is not going to be straightforward at all. If we are not successful in that it will affect the broader changes we want to make across the organisation.

“In terms of service provision, we are strong; in terms of transformation, we are at the foothills. But I believe we now have the clarity of purpose, leadership, drive and energy needed to make it up that hill. The test of that will be over the next few months and years.”

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