Message from Cllr Graeme Miller
Unlock Our City’s Potential
The City of Sunderland has a proud history with a long and vibrant heritage and I am honoured to be the leader of our council. I believe that Sunderland is a sleeping giant with massive potential that we can unlock over the coming weeks, months and years but to do it we must work together.
It is not lost on me that the people of Sunderland including Washington, Houghton and Hetton residents feel that we, as a council, have not performed well enough in the past and I want to say to you that myself and my cabinet have listened and will continue to listen. I became leader of our council in May of 2018, which feels like a lifetime ago, and immediately instructed our officers to change the way we work. Cost cutting was, of course, a part of the reason for these changes and by reducing the number of senior managers and directors we have managed to send that revenue towards serving our residents directly.
The main reason for these changes however was to make our council more dynamic and effective in delivering our priorities for you, the residents. Our elected members and council officers now work in a much more cohesive way meaning that services and capital projects to regenerate our city can be delivered more efficiently. Similarly, job roles have been changed to help us achieve our goals, for example, of a healthy city. I am delighted to welcome Gerry Taylor to the newly expanded role of Executive Director of Public Health and Integrated Commissioning.
Myself and my cabinet have several key aspirations for our city and we are already well underway with making them a reality.
- We want to create more genuinely affordable housing and so we are taking vacant properties into council ownership, giving them a new lease of life. We are now also building council houses for the first time in 40 years to provide good quality homes with affordable rents that in turn bring revenue into the council to help us deliver services for residents.
- We want to end in work poverty and so now, we not only pay our own employees the Real Living Wage, but we also extended this commitment to staff working for council contractors as contracts are renewed.
- We understand that there are different needs and different priorities across the different areas of the city and so we are now developing our Neighbourhood Improvement Project to create bespoke, individual and targetted plans for each area. Not just a plan for Sunderland but a local plan for Hylton Castle, South Hylton and Redhouse. Not just a plan for Washington but a local plan for Barmston, Concord and Springwell Village.
- We have listened to our residents through the “Lets Talk” programme of community engagement and heard clearly that residents want us to continue that engagement so that we work together to make Sunderland the place we all know it can, should and will be. As leader I have devolved power to the area committees so that decisions about your area are made by local councillors, elected by you, and not just at the Civic Centre which means you have much more power to influence change in your area. I would encourage you to contact your local councillor to drive our home forward, it is by the strength of our common endeavour that we can achieve more than we achieve alone.
Our council is changing, our city is changing and together we can unlock the potential of the place we live to make it a magnet city, a city that draws people in as a great place to live, work and play. That journey has just begun but if we work together we can make it a home to be proud of. I look forward with optimism and hope you do to.
Cllr Graeme Miller
Leader of Sunderland City Council
Councillor for Washington South Ward