In the video message to CWaC employees, Mr Robinson also admits the Tory-controlled authority “isn’t really fit for purpose moving forward over the next five years” and warns of more job losses.
Detractors argue CWaC is overly close to business, undemocratic and makes too many mistakes but supporters says its pro-growth agenda will bring jobs, that everyone benefits from low council tax rises due to greater efficiencies and that it is investing millions in a new theatre and backing regeneration schemes at Chester and Northwich.
Mr Robinson is clear Cheshire West is on the right track.
Asked how the organisation can keep focused on service delivery in a climate of constant change, Mr Robinson responded: “This was the subject of a discussion with our fourth tier managers the other week where really the focus was very much on culture within the council, and then what it says is the council has come a long, long way in five years; there’s no doubt we are leading council in the country.
“It was only the other week where a very senior civil servant was here in Chester, she visited us here in HQ, and she commented out of the blue about what the feel of this organisation was like and how it felt very ‘can do’ and I think that’s great and that’s very much down to the culture that we’ve been developing in the organisation.
“We’re actually talking to our customers, identifying what isn’t right for them and trying to resolve those problems. It’s actually about trying to create a council that’s problem-solving rather than pursuing processes.”
Mr Robinson stressed the council must continue to adapt to the evolving agenda by becoming a commissioning council that buys in more and more services even though this means fewer jobs.
He said: “As that agenda has developed what we’ve seen is that the council isn’t really fit for purpose moving forward over the next five years. To put that into perspective, in 2009 we created the council, we employed over 7,000 people. Here we sit now in 2014 and we employ 3,500 people, and that will reduce even more over the next couple of years. So what we’ve said all along is that we need to change the way we operate as a council, we need to move to be a different sort of council, and we refer to that as a commissioning council.”
Accepting endless restructuring was difficult to handle, he commented: “Now I understand that’s a real problem for some of our colleagues because that feel of constant change, instability is very unsettling, but the reality is that that’s what it is.”
Finally, Mr Robinson reminded everyone that next May’s general and local elections could see another change in political direction. “The challenge for us is to be in the right place at the right time to move the council forward after those elections,” he concluded.