Spotlight on…

Kirsty Cole, Deputy Chief Executive, Newark and Sherwood District Council

In each edition of ConsortEM, we shine a light on a member to show the variety of roles within the consortium. This month, Kirsty provides an insight into working as part of a council’s corporate management team.

How long have you been with Newark and Sherwood District Council?

I joined the council as Senior Solicitor in October 1982 having previously been at South Kesteven District Council and in private practice.

I have held a variety of roles here and have managed a diverse range of council functions.

I currently hold the position of Deputy Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer.

What does your role entail?

I am a member of the council’s corporate management team where my role involves deputising for the chief executive and acting as the council’s monitoring officer.

I directly manage democratic services, the policy and commissioning and performance team, planning and customer services. We operate a fluid management structure and I am regularly involved in a broad range of issues including those relating to legal services.

I also play a key role in major projects and transformation.

To whom do you report? What is the structure of your team?

I report directly to the chief executive but I work closely with my corporate management team colleagues and our business managers.

What are the most pressing issues for you at the moment?

Our most pressing issue continues to be the need to find budget savings while maintaining the same level of service to the public.

We have been innovative in our approach to meeting budget challenges, undertaking major capital projects in order to stimulate local economy. We have just completed the building of a new leisure centre in Newark, part-funded by a major redevelopment scheme in Newark town centre. We opened a National Civil War Centre which has been successfully integrated with our local theatre. We are also in the process of building new council offices.

What regulatory issues are on the horizon?

We are trying hard to anticipate future needs and demands with an innovative and entrepreneurial approach. Our mantra has always been to find a way to do what we want to do within legal boundaries and with a full appreciation of potential risks and challenges, rather than finding a reason not to do things. Our priorities seek to identify future needs and demands. For example, there is an increase in the number of older people and there is also a greater demand for affordable housing. We are currently undertaking a major scheme to provide extra-care housing for elderly people on land owned by the district council, with match funding successfully awarded by the Homes and Communities Agency and the county council.

We have an arm’s length company to manage our housing stock and have recently set up a Teckal company to run our leisure services.

We are keeping our eye on changes proposed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in order to better understand the challenges and opportunities that this will present.

How does Newark and Sherwood District Council compare with other places you have worked?

I relish the public sector ethos and am proud to have been given the opportunity to make a real difference to the district in which I live and work.

What law would you like to see changed?

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 as it threatens the future of social housing. I remain sceptical about the proposal to privatise planning services.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

If you do not know the answer use common sense and 99 per cent of the time you will be right.

Finally two truths and one lie in any order:

  • I met Ken Dodd when he appeared in Newark at our local theatre;
  • I met Princess Anne at a Women’s Institute event in Newark Town Hall; and
  • I met David Starkey at our National Civil War Centre in Newark.