May 2nd 2013 was a greatly significant day. Not only was I appointed leader of Warwickshire County Council, but, as the first female leader, I felt incredibly proud and honoured to be steering our county borough into the future.
Being leader of such a wide-ranging organisation as Warwickshire County Council is both a privilege and a challenge. On assuming position in May 2013 I quickly learned the importance of co-operation and conversation with both opposition leaders and the district councils, not least because we are an administration that lacks overall control.
Underpinning this administration’s vision are two key pillars; a desire to ensure integrity of services within a constrained budget and an aspiration to drive forward Warwickshire as a centre of economic excellence.
The first pillar is perhaps the trickiest. As leader of an administration which holds no absolute control, careful consideration has to be made into the effects and impacts of key decisions that have ‘domino effects’ for external organisations and the populations we serve as elected members. It is with this in mind that the ‘shaping the future’ programme was born. Engaging with communities is vital and I hope that as many people as possible will participate in this conversation. These are our services and it is vital our values are in line with those of the communities we represent.
As already mentioned, the task of delivering our services for the most vulnerable within a constrained budget is a great one. The transformation of services should involve the integration of the ‘3rd sector’ into traditional approaches, simultaneously maintaining our services and bringing communities closer together. In doing so, we provide an answer to the great demands placed on health and social care (for example) by demographic changes in society.
The second pillar of our administration focuses on economic development and growth. Creating and maintaining valuable jobs is vital in enhancing our economic capabilities. Jaguar Land Rover is but one example where innovation and investment enhance our economy and our outlook for the future. Linked to this, the procurement of skills of our young people within a changing labour market is also an important asset in ensuring economic development. Apprenticeships are increasing; engaging members of society with their local economies, equipping them with valuable skills needed to succeed.
One of the key elements of developing a strong, stable economy is the confidence it gives to our population that they will have jobs that will be sustainable. The role the county needs to play here is in matching the skills of our young people to the job needs within Warwickshire. The Warwickshire economy, has, by and large faired reasonably well through this difficult period. We are now poised to develop a thriving economy for the future.
It is essential for the wellbeing of generations ahead that Warwickshire plays the pivotal part now in shaping our future in this area.
Councillor Izzi Seccombe became the first female leader of Warwickshire County Council in May 2013. She was elected as Councillor for Stour and the Vale in 2001, and prior to becoming leader was Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families from 2005 to 2010.