A kitchen table interview with Stuart Dark
Borough Council Leader Stuart Dark is with Richard Bird.
In the latest of T&A’s Kitchen Table interviews Stuart relates the story of his first ten weeks of being the new leader of the Kings Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council.
How much of a challenge is this new job?
KL&WNBC is one of the biggest district councils in England, the biggest in Norfolk, it is made up of 101 Towns and Parishes, it is 550 square miles in size, it has a large coastline and many specific challenges many involving water management. The challenge is huge but I believe it can be done well.
How, after your retirement from the Police did you find yourself in local politics?
Like many I found myself fighting a local cause and was quite successful, I was noticed by a former KL&WNBC leader and significant Norfolk County Councillor, John Dobson. He encouraged me to become, firstly a Parish councillor then KL&WN followed by NCC, I think most would agree that John was a significant force and a most helpful ally. I hope I can live up to his expectations.
Apart from being very busy what were your first moves as leader?
As many will already know, I am a retired senior Police Officer and have brought the management skills from that office to council. I have made a start by simplifying the portfolios and assigning specific officers to those departments. So effectively the demarcation lines have been re-aligned, and a senior officer is assigned to a policy making member.
One of my priorities is to give more focus to the small stuff that will make a real difference to people’s everyday lives so, every elected member, regardless of political party or persuasion, will be given an initially quite small budget of £1,000 to spend on whatever project is put before them from within their area, so quite small projects will be actioned quickly.
As well as these monies there are significant amounts to be used from the Levelling Up Fund enabling projects to be put forward from all parishes within the KL&WNBC.
Funding schemes for projects will be worked up from the Coastal Community Team based in Hunstanton and the Vision Downham organisation.
Small wins and gains in every ward will be the policy, not just the big projects but all the small community development plans that we need to move our lovely area forward.
So, what are your priorities?
(A) Environment, including Climate Change. (B) People and Communities. (C) Regeneration and Development. (D) Finance. (E) Heritage and Culture Together with Business and Tourism. (F) Delivery of services. (G) Property. (H) making sure officers deliver our priorities.
Thanks Stuart for taking the time to talk to Town and Around; we look forward to our next update!