After some 4 years as HSE's "senior champion" for the LA/HSE partnership I am now looking forward to my retirement from HSE in September. In July I shall be passing responsibility for this partnership role to Marcia Davies, who is (and will remain) HSE's Regional Director for the Midlands. I know that Marcia is an enthusiastic supporter of the partnership - as I am - and that she is keen to help the partnership to continue to flourish and grow.
From my own perspective the past four years have simply flown by. A more objective sense of time can perhaps be gained from looking at all that we have jointly achieved since the early days of the "Statement of Intent" That document remains as a valid and clear expression of what the partnership is about. But I still look back with some surprise at how readily we managed to get leaders from both HSC/E and local government to sign up to the Statement. I guess after 25 years of our somewhat arms-length relationship both sides realised we could do better for health and safety through a closer partnership.
The partnership has grown steadily since 2004. I am particularly proud of ensuring that the emphasis was put strongly on "real work" in the field, and on the work to support that through the joint partnership teams. The clear pay-off came in 2006-07 with the LA contribution to the Fit3 programme exceeding 300 staff-years of effort - comfortably out-gunning HSE's time spent on Fit3 work.
With LACoRS colleagues we have continued to embed the partnership as "the way we do business". This last year has seen a number of important achievements and milestones including the agreement of the s18 standard, the mainstreaming of flexible warrants, development of HELex, the excellent series of regional conferences and the related work on Local Area Agreements (LAAs) - and much else to glue all these together. There remains of course much still to do: in particular to agree how to express the contribution of Local Authorities (LAs) to the Executive's revised strategy (currently being debated); to embed the s18 standards; to cope with the pressure on resources; and to establish appropriate relationships with Local Better Regulation Office (LBRO). And all of us need to maintain the good communications, at every level, which are so crucial to our collective success.
I believe that the evaluation of the partnership, which is now underway, will strongly endorse the partnership as a continuing major part of how we will deliver the new Executive's revised strategy. We enjoy positive support from HSE's senior staff, and not least Lord McKenzie himself. So I am very confident that the LA/HSE partnership will prosper, and continue to be seen as a model for how central and local government can make best use of respective strengths, working together for the employers, employees and public we serve.
My best wishes for the future to you all.