July 2015 Breakfast Briefing

Venue: Milton Keynes
Date: 21 Jul 2015

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Working with business can help MK Council take forward the city’s ambitions says chief executive Carole Mills

The partnership between business and Milton Keynes Council has never been more important, the authority’s chief executive has told city Business Leaders.

Carole Mills said working together would help the council meet the challenge of reduced funding, increasing demand and what she called ‘a massive period of change’. She was speaking at the latest Breakfast Briefing held by MK Business Leaders Partnership.

Carole said that in 25 years in local government she had not known a period with such a sense of change. There was the challenge of reduced funding, with £68 million of savings achieved in the past three years and around £54-55 million savings to find in the next three to four years. More creative solutions were required to deliver this.

She said all this was happening as Milton Keynes’ population is growing, with MK’s ‘pioneers’ from the 1960s and 70s getting older and inward migration creating more children. There are also the demands from health inequalities, demands for housing and demands on infrastructure, as well as devolution, localism and people’s expectations.

Carole said the council was adapting and changing, with smarter ways of working and with fewer staff. “We must negotiate how we can use our limited resources to the best effect,” she said.

Carole said the council already has partnerships with other local authorities, central government, agencies like the NHS, the fire service and police and with citizens who used and accessed its services. The council works closely with SEMLEP (South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership) and influential groups like MK Business Leaders as well as the MK Business Council, MK City Centre Management and MK Transport Partnership she said.

“We need to foster a sensible, practical and understanding relationship with business in the city, talk to the right people, listen to business leaders and get the right advice. Partnerships have never been more important - working together to help take forward our city’s ambitions,” Carole said. The council was being encouraged to develop a long term vision for a greater Milton Keynes which business could help define.

MK Business Leaders’ chairman Dr Philip Smith said their members were aware of the challenges facing the council. “It is not going to get easier. We can criticise the council but that does little to help solve the problems. The business community has an important role to play through partnership working, to see our way through these difficulties in the best interests of the whole community” he said.

The MK BLP Breakfast Briefing was held on Tuesday, July 21, 2015