As probably many already know the council recently agreed to reorganise the senior management team. This was to both improve service delivery and join up working and also to save money at the senior level, to help protect to the extent possible the key services that residents rely on.
From a housing and neighbourhoods point of view Housing will be brought together with a number of other areas that go to improve our local neighbourhoods and there will be some real opportunities and joint working for improvements in this area, which is very exciting both to me personally and I hope for residents who want to see vibrant local communities.
The current director of Housing and Community Care has been appointed to the role, and she is (as Jo Lovelock says in the press release below) both hugely able and passionate about delivering for residents.
It's a worrying time for everyone in local government as we make big changes to survive but at the same time I think there will be some really good and exciting things that we can do as a result of this change.
This shouldn't be seen as a political move and it was supported by the Liberal Democrat group (although when they were part of the administration they didn't manage to bring forward savings in senior management costs). However it is worth noting that both the Green and Conservative groups voted against it. It would be nice to know what they would have saved £500,000 on instead. That's a lot of care assistants and street cleaners.
Council press release:
Avril Wilson will take up the new post of Director of Education, Social Services and Housing at Reading Borough Council, it was confirmed today (Dec 14).
In November this year the Council's Personnel Committee agreed to join together the Education and Children's Services and Housing and Community Care Directorates, together with parts of the Chief Executive's Directorate, to form the new Education, Social Services and Housing Directorate.
Avril Wilson - who has been with Reading Borough Council for 7 years - currently holds the post of Interim Director of Housing and Community Care. She will move into her new role almost immediately, continuing the significant work that has already taken place to plan and prepare for bringing the new Directorate successfully into being in the new year.
As part of the Council's on-going drive to find more efficient ways of working and improved service-delivery for residents, plans were confirmed last month to merge the current Housing and Community Care (HCC) and the Education and Children Services (DECS) directorates, into one new directorate. The Education, Social Services and Housing Directorate will have a particular focus on the needs of children and adults, with a stronger emphasis on housing and neighbourhood working. It will also support the Council's programme of community engagement, and lead to reduced management costs.
Avril Wilson said: 'I am delighted to be taking on what is a key role at such an important time. The new Education, Social Services and Housing Directorate will allow us to look at new ways of delivering services to residents in a more targeted and effective way, and using the full expertise and experience of officers here at Reading right across the range of teams. It's a challenge I am very much looking forward to.'
Reading Borough Council Leader Jo Lovelock said: 'I am delighted that Avril has been appointed. She has a good track record of managing change and is passionate about providing good services for residents. The current directorates are rightly praised for their commitment and improvement, but I believe that by making this radical move we can transform the way in which the Council works with and delivers services to families and individuals in need of support.'
Ms Wilson will now be involved in the appointments to the new Head of Service posts, with the new team starting all the detailed planning necessary before the new Directorate gets fully up and running, currently anticipated to be by April next year."