Tick Follows Tock Follows Tick Follows Tock…….


…….What do Toy Story 3, Pink Floyd’s album The Division Bell and an Irish two-year child called Katie Elliot all have in common?……………..No idea…………………………………..Well hopefully the Guinness Ad ‘The Surfer’ (surely the best ad of all time!!!!?!) will give you a massive clue!!

For Toy Story 3, Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell and Katie Elliot were all delayed by as much, and sometimes by even more time, than this blog post has been delayed!!!!!!!!!!! Its been a really really really long time between blogs – Jackie, Claudette and others have given me hints and nudges with varying degrees of subtlety but it made no difference. And then Claudette gave me another nudge recently. So I decided to get on with it.

If you are wondering about those delays……well Toy Story 3 was an incredible 11 YEARS after Toy Story 2, Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell was released 7 years after A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, the album which had preceded it, and perhaps most amazing of all Katie Elliot holds the world record at the moment for the longest gap between her birth and that of her twin – for her sister Amy had been born a barely believable 87 days earlier!

For all the hype at the time apparently less anticipated than one of my blog posts!
For all the hype at the time apparently Toy Story 3 was a lot less anticipated than one of my blog posts!

I am really sorry to have been so awful at communicating and I will try and make sure you don’t wait anywhere near as long in future – and I will try not to follow Pink Floyd’s example in particular – for having delayed the release of Division Bell by 7 years, it’s now been TWENTY YEARS since it…..and nothing! So my aim is to try and get another blog out to you before the end of November – otherwise I’ll see you in 2034!


You may well have seen that the Chief Executive has published proposals to members for a restructure of Council Directorates. For CYPLD specifically, the key proposal the paper sets out is the merger of Children’s and Adults Services into one Directorate. It’s an approach which has been followed in some other Councils.  I’ve got some personal experience of it as my partner is the joint Director of Children’s and Adults in another London Borough and some professional experience of it as I worked under this arrangement in a previous role. At this stage Sutton are consulting on it and that consultation is in the first instance with all those directly affected – in other words the Directors and Executive Heads in the Council. From that there will obviously be a report back to members and of course all staff will have access to that. In addition, as with any consultation within the Council there will be an opportunity to express a view. I’ll give you further information on it, and discuss the implications of it during our divisional briefings which are coming up in early November


The invites for those divisional briefings have been drafted and there will be 4 sessions for you to choose from this autumn. I’ll do each of the briefings at the Quad and I hope you will make it to at least one of those sessions. If you don’t receive the invite through Claire Cremins in Business Support, drop Claire an e-mail and she will pass on the relevant info about the dates and times of each session. By having four sessions I want to give you as much chance as possible of being able to attend. The downside though is that this is too many to ask the Heads of Service to attend for each session so I’ve simply asked Jackie, Nigel and Claudette to attend one of the four sessions. My apologies if that means you don’t get an answer to a question you raise at a session – however I will take a note of any questions i can’t answer and the relevant HoS will get back to you in due course


Members made a recent decision at the Children Family and Education Committee to implement a further raft of saving proposals. Among these was a proposal to reduce the funding to Children’s Centres for April 2015. Jackie and I are currently visiting all the Children’s Centres to meet with the leadership teams to discuss the implications and how we might mitigate any impact on service users and for staff.

We’ve also discussed some further options with both members and the Corporate Management Team in recent weeks and we are finalising a further set of proposals for the next CFE committee in December. I will also include an outline of the savings target and options we are looking at as part of the staff briefings over the next few weeks.


I’ve begun a series of visits to your team meetings and I know that several are already in my diary – and in fact I’ve already been at team meetings with both the Families Matter service and with Sutton Family Centre. If you’d like me to come along to one of your team meetings let me know through Claire Cremins in Business Support


There have been several changes across our division. I will try and update on some of the key ones and my apologies for any which I miss. In Advisory and Inspection, our previous Primary Lead Chris Jacobs has moved on. Chris played a key role along with his colleagues in the primary team, the primary inspectors and the schools themselves in raising standards in Sutton to where they are now with Sutton’s Primary Schools the highest performing in the country this year. Chris is replaced by Kate Evans as the new primary lead and we have adjusted a number of roles and responsibilities within the advisory service as a result.

We are now recruiting to the management roles within the restructured Families Matter Service and recently Celia Allotey has started as a new assistant team manager overseeing the work of the Blue Locality within the service. Over the coming weeks we will be recruiting to other posts within the service.

Our Business Support in CYPLD has changed quite a bit in recent months, especially as Vanessa moved on from her previous post as my PA and of course Janice Hamilton and Joan Martin both retired from roles as PA’s in CYPLD. In the main my Business Support is currently provided by Claire Cremins, who was previously a PA for Richard. Claire is currently supporting the three Exec Heads along with Clemmi Bartholomew who is Tolis’ new PA. We are waiting on another member of staff to join Business Support at The Grove and I will let you now when that is finalised. In the interim though, if you need to contact me for anything then Claire is the best route to get to me. Lastly Debbie Whitton has moved on from her role as the project manager for our Children’s Service Redesign and we are interviewing for a replacement later this week.

A TALE OF TWO CITIES (Hairdressers!)

Several months back I had a haircut at the little hairdressers in the Essex village where I live. Alas even though I asked for it to be ‘just tidied up a bit’ I came across the most enthusiastic hairdresser in the UK.  Hours later I was virtually shaven-headed – now I know some of you will be thinking why didn’t I say something sooner but we men don’t do that – we just sit passively. At the end when she showed me and asked if it was okay all I could utter was a sound like “hmmwa” – somewhere between a whimper and a slow moan! Then a few weeks ago, now that it’s grown back I tried again this time in Carshalton. I asked for a tidy up and came across the most reluctant hairdresser in the UK – I think she cut about four hairs individually – even I couldn’t tell the difference! And to make it worse, while my daughter was at home watching Anchorman she commented “That guy has the same hairstyle as you Col!” As you can see this is neither fair nor accurate – is it?! (Mind you I’m not participating in Movember this year just in case!)

I don't see any similarity between my mullet and any of these guys really.......
I don’t see any similarity between my mullet and any of these guys really…….


As part of the digital changes the Council is implementing I’ve recently made the transition from Outlook to Google for diary, tasks, email etc. I like it and am finding it good to work with although I know that others have found it more problematic. I think much of what we are experiencing at present are minor issues and once everyone has transferred things will get easier. In the short term though I know it causes some minor problems if you are trying to arrange for me to attend meetings etc. However pretty much everyone will be transferring to Google in the near future if you have not done so already

A further part of the IT programme is upgrades to both the CYPLD intranet and internet. There are a number of managers across our division currently updating the context for their ‘part’ of the new site and when these are ready, IT will begin the process of converting these and uploading them to the new site which will have a changed look and feel. Once it’s complete I will send you the relevant link to check it for yourself.


My family’s concerns about my weight haven’t gone away so I’m on yet another diet – I’ve lost track of what it’s called – all I know is I’m hungry (and I don’t seem to be any less overweight either!!) And to make matters worse I seem to be surrounded by references to food –  yesterday I was just emerging from a morning doze on the Central Line and got on the train at Victoria – the guy opposite sat down with a breakfast from Burger King and then two seconds later a woman with a tray of fantastically decorated cupcakes sat next to me. I don’t now what the world endurance record is for salivating but I kept it up all the way from Victoria to Sutton yesterday!

These are the burgers I see when Im hungry!
These are the burgers I see when Im hungry!


And finally………..

……………A couple of weeks back I had the rarest of experiences – a Friday night at home with the house all to myself. My daughter was on a sleepover and my partner was at a staff night out. So I could watch what I wanted. I settled down to of course sport, and spent the first few hours watching cricket from Pakistan. Then I discovered a series of music documentaries on BBC 3 all about a guilty pleasure of mine – ABBA! I was engrossed in it, and I admit signing along when I heard sniggering behind me – it was later than I thought and my secret Abba adoration is now out! I’ve been mercilessly ribbed ever since! Who would have thought that loving the tune of Mamma Mia could be the cause of so much pain?! But as my love of Abba is now an open secret, here is a wee taste of one of my favourite Abba covers. This is James Walsh of Starsailor covering Dancing Queen – and I am in the audience – and yes I certainly am singing along!


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