That blog headline comes from a quote from Ingrid Bergman. She described a kiss like this:

“A kiss is a lovely trick, designed by nature, to stop speech when words become superfluous!”

It’s beautiful and romantic but sometimes kissing can be more dangerous than you might think. Last Friday my partner dropped me off at the Tube station. She gave me a kiss – and why wouldn’t she as I am a handsome man!!!!!!!!! Anyway, I went out to Victoria on the Tube through Oxford Circus. The Tube was rammed. When I got to Victoria I bought a coffee – and the young woman serving me said ‘Interesting choice of lip colour!’……………………………………………….

And you know you get that moment when your mind just…….. you just suddenly know!!! She confirmed that I was rather overtly lipstick smeared!!!!  She gave me tissues and it took me a good 5 mins you wipe off the residue of what I was later told was ‘Fuschia Rose’.  Now Fuschia Rose is lovely and on my partner, who is beautiful, Fuschia Rose is a perfect adornment. On me however Fuschia Rose looked like a bit like Jack Nicholson did when he was playing the Joker in the Batman films.

When you get to my age you don’t have much street cred left  – but you have none whatsover if you try to go through London in the rush hour smeared with Fuschia Rose!

And for all you truly romantic members of staff feel, free to use that Ingrid Bergman line with your partners and pretend you’ve just become a hopeless romantic!!


If you haven ‘t yet done it I’d encourage you to do the Council Staff Survey, commissioned from BMG to ensure its fully confidential and independent. It doesn’t take long to do and the questions are all pretty straightforward and clear. There is still time to make your views known. While there’s always a query about what difference one person’s voice can make, I would still encourage you to add your voice to that of others – partly because in order to decide on next steps, it will be better if the views represent as wide a cross section of staff as possible.

When we were working on the SEN place projections for things like Free School bids which included Specialist bases and considering the scope for some place reductions in a couple of schools, Kieran and I discussed the potential for a wider overarching SEN Commissioning Strategy. We think it would be beneficial for both the management of SEN commissioning and a helpful addition to the approach to Pupil Place Planning. As a result Kieran and Colin Pates have been working up an initial draft and I will review that this week. Once we have something closer to a final draft we’ll share with others for comment and feedback

Sue Holmes from Finance will be joining me in meeting the Heads and Governors on this School Forum task group. The focus of the meeting will be on finalising the options for DSG Savings consultations which will need to be approved at the full Forum next week before being sent to schools and services for comment and response. At this meeting Sue and I will be presenting both the factual info and our own views about the scale of savings needed and securing a balanced range of options to make the necessary cost reductions.

We are having slightly more frequent meetings with Trade Union colleagues at the moment simply because we have a lot going on. As well as the formal consultations around Targeted Youth and Education Service Spin Out I met last week with the Teaching Unions and this week am meeting with the representatives of recognised Trade Unions across the Council more generally.

Strange as it may seem I actually think I might miss Google and Modern Desktop a bit now that I’ve got used to it. Talking to colleagues I get the sense that while we might not be at the forefront of modern technology, the way we use IT in Sutton is better than it is in several other boroughs! At Digital Programme Board this week we’ll be looking at next steps with the Digital Strategy which is largely centred on future use of Google Apps, developing a My Account provision for residents to manage their business/interaction with the Council and the work of the Digital Ambassadors who are looking at how we transform ways of working for staff and residents through IT.
Then later in the week I will be meeting the Digital Ambassadors from Children’s Services who are currently involved in that above-mentioned project work with colleagues from across the Council. Our ambassadors are Kelly in Integrated Services Young Children, Louise in Integrated Services Young People and Oonagh in QA/Commissioning

I’m going to the Cheltenham Literature Festival next weekend. I’m going to sessions with authors like Ian McEwan, Sebastian Faulks and Eimear McBride over the two days of the festival. Going to a Literature Festival is not unusual for me. What IS unusual this time is that my partner has decided to come with me!!!! Usually the book stuff is something she tolerates with mild amusement on a good day. Last night she asked me about the details and in particular where we’re staying. I explained I’d rented a house right in the middle of Cheltenham. ‘Is it near enough to the shopping centre to walk there?’ she asked! And the penny dropped – I’m might not be going to Cheltenham on my own but I’m going to the Book Festival unaccompanied!!!

In the brutal war in our house between books and shoes, the shoes win every time!


This is Helen’s last week with the Council having been here as PA to different officers for almost 19 years. She’s off to be a PA at Institute for Cancer Research now and I’d like to wish her well on behalf of all of us. We’re a pretty busy part of the Council and our business is both varied and complexed and Helen has done a great job getting her head round the complexities and intricacies of what we do since she moved to work for me from her previous job as PA to the Director of Adults Services.
Helen will be replaced by Kirstie Roartie. As with the current arrangements, Kirstie will work for both Nick the Head of Adults and I.

The government are making a number of changes to funding 2, 3 and 4 year old childcare arrangements, including new administration arrangements. Later this week I will be meeting with colleagues in both Early Years and Corporate Performance to consider what needs to be done and by when to ensure we are fully compliant.

Got my next one to one with Tolis this week. We’ll be focusing in the main on the transition arrangements for me moving on and on the detailed handover that will be needed. We are also going to be looking at the appointment of leaders and Directors to the Education spin out and the staffing structure and organisational arrangements for the Targeted Youth service post-consultation with staff.

I’ve also got one to one meets this week with Jackie and William and I’m also meeting up with Sheila about our future Learning Support Service.

I’ve been in Scotland quite a bit in the last few weeks visiting my parents. When I was up a few weeks ago there was an ad in the local paper which was titled Job Vacancy. It was a local Garden Centre advertising for a Father Christmas to man their Christmas Grotto! As well as stating that they were looking for somebody who would be available throughout December, the ad also contained the following classic lines:

‘ability to get on with children desirable ( but not essential!!! It’s still a no-nonsense world in Glasgow!!) and that the job had ‘excellent career opportunities’!!!!

So if the successful candidate does well at that Garden Centre, I think you should all get ready to host a Glaswegian on your roof on December 24th!!!!!!!!!


………………………………………………….. As you now know through Tolis and the subsequent note I sent on Friday, I’ve decided to leave my post in Sutton for a new job. I know from feedback that this has created anxiety, uncertainty and concern for some of you as it comes at a time of significant change in several services. As I mentioned above, the transition arrangements are still to be finalised and when they are I will write to all of you more fully. In the meantime I will also being working on handover arrangements with the Heads of Services, as well as with the management team in the Advisory and Inspection Service. However if you have any specific queries relating to you and what it might mean for the services you work in, then please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s