Spotlight on…

Jane Hackett, Solicitor and Monitoring officer, Tamworth Borough Council

In each edition of ConsortEM, we shine a light on a member to show the variety of roles within the consortium. This month, Jane provides an insight into working as a solicitor and monitoring officer in a local council.

How long have you been with Tamworth Borough Council?

I have been with Tamworth Borough Council since July 2007. I started on a temporary contract as a restructure was taking place. I applied for my current post as solicitor to the council and monitoring officer in December 2007 and the rest, as they say, is history. Prior to working in Tamworth I was a senior solicitor in the legal team at East Dunbartonshire Council in central Scotland.

What does your role entail?

Apart from my corporate governance and monitoring officer roles, I am responsible for legal services which include right to buy and land charges, democratic services, scrutiny, election services, member services and mayoralty. I am also the safeguarding officer and RIPA co-ordinator for the council.

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

I report to the executive director of corporate services and am part of the corporate management team made up of eight officers.

My team is small, extremely hard working and busy, comprising 10 people delivering the services mentioned above. We hope to recruit a new team member in the next financial year.

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

The council has embarked on an ambitious commercial investment and regeneration strategy for the borough which will involve several projects operating simultaneously. This will include house building, working with partners in the county and in industry to regenerate the town centre, and setting up a limited company to assist the strategy. With this going on, and the day job, it is a pretty busy time and elections (the annual deputy returning officer role) are only around the corner.

What regulatory issues are on the horizon?

The Great Repeal Act and the Housing and Planning Act will have extensive effects on local authorities and on society as a whole. There is also the West Midlands Combined Authority which will result in changing the status of the Midlands for the better of its residents.

How does Tamworth Borough Council compare with other places you have worked?

I completed my traineeship in private practice and then moved to the public sector and back and forth between the two for a number of years. I have covered a wide range of legal practice areas during my career and as a result my working life has never been dull. When I moved to England in 2007 it was a challenge, but one that I have enjoyed. At Tamworth Borough Council no two days are the same; there is always plenty of variety.

What law would you like to see changed?

The Care Act. I think it is so unfair that a person can work to buy and pay for their home, but are not then free to dispose of it as they see fit because of the risk that their local authority may seek to look behind the disposal so they can claw back care costs. It was suggested some time ago that, to redress the balance, a cap should be introduced on the amount of care costs someone has to pay during their lifetime. However, the introduction of such a cap will not happen until 2020 at the earliest, and there is no certainty that it will ever actually come into effect.

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

Do not be a clipe (tell tales).

Finally, two truths and one lie in any order

  • We are all Jock Tamson’s bairns.
  • Good gear always comes in small packages.
  • No one can tether time nor tide.