What now for Essex
Essex County Council has been blazing a trail in local government in recent years. The council has been ambitious in its role, sometimes generating controversy. From opening post offices to proposing a new municipal bank, via Facebook campaigns, major service reconfiguration, and an innovative Chief Executive jobshare with a local district council, Essex has been in the headlines. I sometimes hear grumblings in the local government world that these innovations are not yet proven, and that other councils are also trying similar things. That may be so, but I do think we should credit Essex for helping the cause of localism and the reputation of local government by being prepared to push the boundaries, often in the face of Whitehall opposition. Lord Hanningfield, who readers will know has resigned as Leader over allegations about his parliamentary expenses, brought together a talented team at Essex in the Cabinet and amongst the senior officers. This will be an uncertain time at Essex County Hall but with the election of the new Leader today, Cllr Peter Martin, Essex can get back to focusing on what it does best: doing things differently and leading the way.