Managing Director Update - January 2021

Cheryl Davenport, EELGA's Managing Director, reflects on January 2021


I’m writing this article on Friday 22 January, with “Blue Monday” behind us, snowdrops coming through, daylight before 8am and the vaccination programme well underway. There are brighter days ahead, but as the anniversary of the start of the pandemic looms, we consider a whole 365 days of loss, the many lives and livelihoods damaged or placed on hold, and that much of what we previously took for granted is changed forever.

January confronted us with the actual peak of this pandemic to contend with, once again pushing the public sector to their limits and way beyond. For those who were able to take even a small break over Christmas, this already seems a long time ago. Many staff are back to juggling homeschooling, there’s still the ongoing risk of infection, the majority of the activities that bring “balance” to our work/life balance are not possible, and the exit from lockdown is still out of reach. There’s a lot of psychological gymnastics involved in getting through each day and week, both professionally and personally.

Two things I have found helpful to focus on every day are:

  1. As individuals, every interaction is an opportunity to reach out to each other with empathy and kindness.
  2. As a sector, every interaction is an opportunity to demonstrate the very best in public sector leadership, partnership and mutual aid, for the benefit of the communities we serve.

This January, the whole EELGA team has continued to dig deep and collaborate. We are providing even more intensive support to our member councils, working closely with our Chief Executives Network and Heads of HR. Additionally, we are coordinating the Covid-19 response regionally, collaborating with the Contain Regional Team, the Regional Vaccination Programme, ADASS, the LGA and many other partners.

We have also made some room to look ahead and focus on the recovery phase.

Our Chief Executive Network met to discuss:

  • The road ahead and outlook for the sector for 2021/22.
  • The next stage of development for Integrated Care Systems.
  • Election planning.
  • The leadership challenges in delivering a rapid and comprehensive recovery programme.

Recovery entails dealing with long term effects of the economic impact of Covid-19, tackling the effects of the prolonged social isolation we have all been experiencing and measuring and addressing the widening of inequalities. Intervention to mitigate the impact on our overall health and wellbeing, including the gaps in care and treatment that will have occurred, and the mental health costs society will face, are also required. Plus, ensuring our region can fund and implement the critical infrastructure and other key enablers for recovery (skills and jobs; housing; digital; green energy; and transport).

These are the priorities for our medium and long term recovery work across our sector, but these can only be delivered effectively via collaboration with all our regional and national partners. The impact and benefits will accrue across traditional organisational and geographic boundaries.

Our Regional Recovery Report is being launched on 5 February 2021 at our EELGA Assembly meeting and sets out how our three political panels  – Infrastructure and Growth, Local Government Employers and People and Communities –  will direct EELGA’s programme of work to build recovery for places, people and businesses across the East of England. At the heart of this recovery programme is our ethos of collaboration, and our commitment to our member councils to support their evolving needs.

My final reflection on this month is that we ran a really helpful staff development session, with insights from Hoxby, to help us focus on our organisational culture and workstyles, and consider the further steps we can all take to lead and manage people and teams more effectively when working remotely.

With thanks and best wishes from all at EELGA for the year ahead.


Cheryl Davenport,

Managing Director