Nick Page, Chief Executive of Solihull Council, has recently taken over as Chair of the Solihull Together Programme Board.
Here he shares his views about the programme, its importance to the borough and some of the challenges and opportunities ahead.
Solihull Together is important because it allows the Council, health partners and the voluntary sector to have shared conversations. It’s a place where we can do business together. And it allows us to address the question ‘how do we support our population, particularly a growing older population?’
What’s great is that every partner wants to use the Solihull Together programme as the vehicle to provide the very best services we can for Solihull residents. We’re all facing challenges. The money isn’t there to do everything we want and we have to make difficult choices. That’s where the Solihull Together programme can provide the evidence, the rigour, the systems and processes to make sure we make the best decisions we can – collectively.
Those decisions include making difficult choices. We need to be clear when things are not working or when they’ve done what they are supposed to do. Let’s be confident about stopping them. We haven’t got the luxury of carrying on with things that have lost their way, or stopped impacting, or never impacted. We’ve got to focus on the real game changers.
The opportunity now is how we bring in other partners like Police, Fire and Housing. If we look at the health and wellbeing agenda it’s as much about jobs, housing and the environment as health. So if we are serious about influencing those determinants of health then it has to be the whole place agenda.
We also have a great opportunity because of the size of our population. Solihull is the place where we can test out new ways of working, innovate and accelerate. And that will allow us to influence thinking at a regional and national level. But there is an urgency for us to be doing this now.
We’ve got some real challenges over the next couple of years. We are asking ourselves as public servants to do the job with higher demands and expectations but fewer resources. This is certainly not easy. But having spent time over the summer visiting some of our frontline teams, I have seen their enthusiasm and determination. I am humbled by the work they are doing. And I know that’s happening all across our organisations.
Another big challenge is accepting change as part of the way we work now. It’s always happening because our population is not static and we are constantly looking for savings, efficiencies and improvements.
I have no doubt that Solihull Together will change again. We will have another look at the programme to see if it’s working or if there is anything we need to change. We must continue to be really critical of ourselves. And if something isn’t working we need to understand why and come to a collective decision about how to fix it.
It’s taken me some time to understand and commit to Solihull Together. It’s a voice for Solihull, a platform for us to engage with our partners in the public and private sector, not just locally but at a regional and national level too. I think Solihull Together is one of the most important pillars for public service in our borough.