Leading those that strive for better

Gary Porter
Gary Porter
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A new weekly column written by members of South Holland District Council’s cabinet This week with Leader Gary Porter

This year is the 40th anniversary of the establishment of South Holland District Council and I have had the honour and privilege to be its Leader now for 11 of those years.

In that time the council has gone through many changes and for the most part has been in the vanguard of those councils prepared to strive for better and/or cheaper service delivery to our residents.

With the support of councillors from both groups, South Holland was the first in the country to set up our own ‘affordable housing company’ and bring in central government funding to help tackle the lack of affordable housing.

We were also one of the first handful of councils to begin building council houses again.

South Holland was also part of the first pair of councils (along with East Lindsey District Council) to set up Compass Point, a ‘Teckal’ company charged with delivering back office services and saving our tax payers several million pounds.

Similarly and relying on that spirit of cross party support we were one half of the first pair of councils in the country to set up a shared management team, crossing local and regional borders.

With Breckland Council (our partners) we now save over £1.2 million every year on the cost of managers.

This work on shared management has been recognised by central government as an example of best practice which brought an award of £380,000 from last year’s innovation challenge fund.

I want to close this column by paying tribute to one person in particular, namely Councillor Angela Newton.

Angela has been on the council for all of its 40 years, serving the people of South Holland in ways that they will probably never really know or understand, but ways that we should all be proud of.

For all of my 11 years as Leader Angela has been Leader of the opposition and I can honestly say that, when we have had to disagree, it’s been because of a belief in what was best for our residents and never about scoring petty political points.

I truly believe that our positive working relationship has been fundamental to all of the above successes we have achieved.