John Barradell, the new Chief Executive of Brighton & Hove City Council took time out to talk to Hove Business Association at their 79th AGM on Wednesday night (28.10.09). The Brighton Centre, environmental industries and harnessing the power of apprentices were all on the list of challenges for the coming months.
In an enlightening and informative presentation, Mr Barradell debunked some of the myths surrounding the role of the Council Chief Executive. When asked what his vision was for the City, he replied, ‘It is not for me to have a vision, that is the job of the elected members. It is my role to deliver their vision.’ This statement set the ball rolling for a fascinating Q&A in which Mr Barradell explained his desire to work closely with elected members, businesses, council officers and a whole host of other partners to make the city, quite simply, “work better “.
One project that he is keen to establish is the concept of an ‘Apprenticeship Training Association or (ATA)’. (see previous story). Many small businesses are put off from taking on apprentices due to red tape, HR law and cost. Whilst in his previous role as Deputy CEO at Westminster Council, John helped to set up an ATA, thereby creating a pool of apprentices that small businesses could take on a trial basis.
The idea has come to the UK from Australia and has already proved successful in London. If plans go ahead in Brighton & Hove, local SMEs would be able to take on apprentices without the added bureaucracy. If a trainee didn’t match up to the job, they could easily be returned to the ‘parent’ company for re-assignment, leaving the SME free of any of the associated management burden. The programme would pave the way to get hundreds more people back in to work.
When asked about development plans for the city, the fate of the Brighton Centre inevitably came to the fore. Mr Barradell expressed his strong desire to see a way through the issues faced with the redevelopment of the city’s flagship conference facility and told the assembled HBA members that the life of the current facility is limited.
Another area that Mr Barradell is keen to explore is the opportunity to build stronger links with the two “world class” universities that the city has to offer. By accessing local expertise and pushing forward with the potential for environmental industries in the City (see earlier story), Mr Barradell expressed the belief that Brighton & Hove could be a national trailblazer for this cutting edge sector that is ripe for development.
Andrew Nichols, Chair of the HBA said, ’It’s great to have started a really positive dialogue between businesses and the new Chief Executive of the City Council. Our hope is that this is the beginning of a strong and productive partnership.’
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