East Devon inspires passion in myself, says council Leader Paul Diviani

New improved ways of working will make us a leaner and more efficient modern council says the Leader of East Devon District Council, Councillor Paul Diviani in his Christmas message

A friend of mine recently told me that when she first moved to East Devon to take up a new job, she thought she had died and gone to heaven. Even now, having lived here for 12 years, she says she still wakes up every morning thinking how unbelievably lucky she is to live and work in such a wonderful place.

East Devon inspires this level of passion in people and no more so than in myself, my fellow councillors and the officers of East Devon District Council. We are all passionate about the work that we do and, above all, we want to ensure that East Devon remains a fantastic place for people - like us- to live in, work, visit and enjoy.

So over the next four years we will be rising to meet the many challenges that reduced funding and increased demands on our services brings. In order to make necessary savings of of £2.6m, we will be using new ways of working, involving systems thinking principles and our ‘WorkSmart‘ approach, which together harness the latest technology and modern working practices. Our move from Knowle to new accommodation in Honiton and Exmouth is part of this plan and will help us become a modern day council in every sense of the word.

All of this will make us leaner, more efficient and better placed to deliver the kind of service that we know you, the residents of East Devon want. We are keen to keep improving and to help us do so, we will be listening to what you have to say in consultations and through our viewpoint surveys.

Great services and great service, first time and every time is the standard that we have set for ourselves. To do that we need to be bold, creative, open and innovative, but above all we must pull together as one council. These are values that set us apart and make the council a place where people want to work - in fact, over 93% of our staff said they would recommend the council as a place to work!

Focus on four priorities

To help us deliver these aspirations, we have developed our new council plan, which provides a constant focus on four main priorities:

We will be encouraging our communities to be outstanding, by helping them to solve their local problems. We also want to encourage people to live healthier, more active lifestyles through sport and exercise and to make the most of the wonderful countryside that surrounds us.

We will continue to promote East Devon as an outstanding place in which to do business and we will strengthen the local economy by attracting inward investment and supporting businesses. 

It is so important that our natural and built environment is protected and we will be working to reduce levels of waste produced in the district, as well as controlling levels of pollution through education and enforcement of environmental legislation.

We will be prioritising a culture of openness and transparency by keeping our residents fully informed and are fully committed to innovative ways of working and commercial thinking, including an improved digital service to give our customers the chance to self serve.

Pride in our achievements

But as we draw near to the end of the year, it is only right that I mention with great pride, a few of the many significant achievements that this council has made during 2014/2015. Top of the list of our accomplishments is housing. We have delivered a grand total of 388 homes for local people, which is our highest number of new affordable local homes in one year. It is our continuing aim to provide more good quality, local homes for local people.

Homelessness in East Devon is extremely low thanks to our homeless prevention initiatives and we are working hard through our Empty Homes Plan to help owners of neglected empty properties in East Devon to bring their properties back into residential use, which will relieve pressure on the private and public housing sectors.

Finally, it gives me enormous pleasure to say that the finalisation of our Local Plan is now within sight and we are anticipating being able to adopt it early next year. This detailed and robust document will help us deliver the aspirations and housing needs of local people, as well as land for employment. It will also help protect our beautiful countryside from unwanted and inappropriate development.

Exciting times lie ahead for us and we are looking forward to working with you all to achieve the greater good for East Devon.

May I now wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Best wishes

Paul Diviani