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Message from Managing Executive Director, Emma Alexander 8 January 2021

8 January 2021

Many of us started this new year with a hope in our hearts that the worst of COVID-19 is past us but, although there is certainly lots to be optimistic about, the latest national lockdown announcement means that this continues to be a very unsettling time.  

In the first few weeks of January new COVID-19 vaccination centres will be opening across the county to enable more vaccinations to be delivered to over 80s and to care home workers. For further details about the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is being organised by the NHS, please visit the Joined Up Care Derbyshire website

We’ve also commenced our community testing pilot with three testing centres now open in Swadlincote, South Derbyshire. Early results are really encouraging, with more than 5,586 people visiting the testing centres and 108 being identified as COVID-19 positive. This means that they, and their close contacts, are able to self-isolate, thus reducing community transmission of the virus and keeping family, friends and contacts safe. 

Further sites across the county will start to operate over the next few weeks and we continue to recruit to roles within the testing centres. Thank you to those of you who have already expressed an interest in carrying out one of these roles and if you would like to support this important work, or know someone who would, then please register your interest or encourage others to apply.  

Over the Christmas and new year period, you have continued to pull out all the stops, working to support residents across all of our services. A big thank you to all of you who have worked so hard all through 2020 and then have continued to do so over Christmas and new year, many of you, I know, juggling family, friends and work commitments. 

New year is a time for looking forward and thinking about how things may change for us over the next 12 months. For me personally, following approval at Council in December, I embark on my new role, for the next 12 months, as Managing Executive Director. This new role has been created by the council in response to the changing world of local government - COVID-19, the prospect of devolution and reform, the ongoing financial challenges and the transition out of the European Union making the time right to change our senior leadership model to enable us to meet the challenges of 2021. 

As Managing Executive Director, which is an extension to my existing Executive Director role, I will continue to work alongside the other three Executive Directors to extend and develop our collective leadership model. I will also be the ultimate accountable officer and will support the Leader to represent the council locally, regionally and nationally, ensuring Derbyshire has influence at every level, whilst reinforcing the partnership between Cabinet and Senior Officers which is central to the council’s operating model. 

It is a great honour to be taking this role on for the next 12 months and I look forward to working with you and to understand more of the great work that you do, as well as the challenges that you face. In terms of priorities, we have just developed the new four-year council plan for 2021-2025, which is currently out for consultation. I welcome your views, so please do respond to the consultation

Despite the optimism we may feel with the vaccine being rolled out, community testing starting and the days starting to lengthen again, there is no doubt that there will continue to be challenges over the coming months, both at work and possibly also in our personal lives. If we can continue to work together, supporting each other, we can be confident that we can meet these challenges head on and look forward to better times ahead. May I wish you hope and happiness for 2021.