Greenfields Community School is a special place

From an Ofsted report following an inspection on the 3rd and 4th of March –

“Many pupils and staff told us how proud they feel of the school. They call Greenfields ‘a special place’. Staff encourage pupils to develop their talents and interests. For example, all pupils in Year 4 learn to play the clarinet. Others enjoy being part of the school band or the ‘mini-police’.
“Pupils often go outside to learn about nature. They grow a lot of produce in the school garden and view wildlife at close quarters. The outdoor spaces are very well developed. This has been recognised through winning the Nottingham in Bloom and East Midlands in Bloom ‘best school grounds’ awards.
“Pupils behave well around school. Pupils told us that they understand what is meant by bullying. They say staff listen and help if they have any worries. Some pupils do not attend school as regularly as they should.
“In lessons, pupils pay attention because they want to do well. We saw pupils of all ages cooperating well when we visited lessons in a range of subjects. They respond well to teachers’ expectations because relationships are warm and supportive. Pupils achieve well in reading, writing and mathematics by the end of Year 6.”

Closing Collin Street to traffic in August

Received a letter to local residents on these plans and you might wonder why carry on with radical change when works to transform Broadmarsh have stopped, question marks hang over city street retail, the opening of the new Nottingham College has slipped to January 2021, more people might be working from home and the earliest any extra new development on the Island site could be is 2022. And then confusing signals have at times been given over the future of bus priority lanes on Carrington Street (only last Saturday), expanding the capacity of the London Road / Queens Road junction and the A453/A52 Clifton Bridge capacity remaining constricted cos of the unexpected and major repairs needed.

Yet the longer term vision for traffic in the city centre and across from and to West Bridgford and the north of the city has been of reduction of traffic since before the construction of the Southern Relief Route – the new Castle Marina Road and the widened Queens Drive / Waterway Street West / Sheriffs Way / Queens Road / London Road – to enable it some 20ish years ago.
A 4 lane “racing track” along Collin Street “cuts off” the railway station from the city centre and we wanted change.
The lower levels of traffic as we come out of the public health emergency actually means this is might be a better time to introduce the change, and I hope the transfer of the nearside inbound lane on Trent Bridge to cyclists will encourage the move to working from home, or commuters using their bikes.

As for some of the confusing signals that have at times come out, I’ve not heard of Queens Road junction being planned for expansion for some time now, and the notion of buses travelling south from out of the city no longer having a direct and prioritised route to the Meadows Way east bus lane seems peculiar at best, kinda running counter to the philosophy of the north of The Meadows (running along Crocus Street and Traffic Street) providing thousands of extra homes and bedrooms for people who will be less reliant on the car.

I wonder if more of NCT’s bus routes might want to explore running around the city? More of the City Council’s services are provided from Loxley House, more of the DWP’s services too; we will be moving the Central Library from Angel Row to Collin Street and Nottingham College will have a new central location off Middle Hill. And the Island site will look to be more active.

Some of NCT’s Orange and Turquoise routes offer a City Loop option from the north, and alongside NCT’s Green services and NCT’s Navy 49 use the Middle Hill / Fletcher Gate / George Street route. It’s great, and serves thousands of residents in the Lace Market and Hockley who don’t own cars.

But the Ice Arena and the Island site are only served by NCT’s Red route and the EcoLink.. Could NCT’s Brown and/or Yellow services be extended to run around the city centre travelling along all of Canal Street before coming back along Bellar Gate / Belward Street / Cranbrook Street and Lower Parliament Street, with the inbound Victoria Centre stop (J1) becoming an interchange for passengers coming in from Mansfield Road (incl. Lime, Purple and Sky Blue) who would then want to reach the south of the city centre, including dropping off much nearer to the railway station?

Welcome to a new Chief Executive

Nottingham City Council held its full council over a telecomms conference call today, and broadcast its proceedings on Youtube.
This is a first for the council.

The main item of business is the appointment of a new Chief Executive, Melbourne Barrett.
The following are the points I wanted to make, but the actual speech is available online.

Chair,
I welcome the report recommending the appoointment of a new Chief Executive.
Yes, I haven’t met him.
Yes, I haven’t heard him.
But the appointment comes after a proper advertisement.
The appointment comes after a proper process.
The appointment comes with a unanimous recommendation from the appointments committee.
And I’m pleased to hear the strong recommendations from the committee members, just made.
So how to welcome the Chief Executive?
By recognising just what an important role this is.
Yes, the politicians make policy and do the most to express our pride in Nottingham and our ambition for it. To be the advocates and representatives.
But we need to council to be well run to spot the opportunities and deliver the projects and services.
Councils have tried to run without a Chief Executive elsewhere and come a cropper.
We can help the process by expressing our commitments to the core values in corporate governance.
Our commitment to the Nolan Committee principles on standards in public life.
Our commitment to working within the law and legal guidance; understanding the importance of the section 151 officer; getting to grips with risk management and analysis.

Embracing the tests of corporate governance.
that we are ambitious;
That we want our projects and services properly planned;
performance mangement;
That we have within our staff and partnerships, the capability, the capacity and the culture to deliver for the people.
that we are legitimate in what we do.
There is within our staff and our partnerships and huge amount of knowledge and there are from reviews from the past plenty of good things to draw upon such as gateway reviews from project management.
Our mantra – proud, ambitious, clean and safe. Maybe now adding green would be a good thing.

There is a good deal to be proud of in terms of the ambition shown for Nottingham by the Council.
Turning our public square into a massive stage for events; our castle and our green flagged public spaces; our theatres, concert hall and ice arena; our power station and district heating; our bus company.
Time and again we’ve seen the value in public ownership to keep the value of the proceeds.
(Seg: green public transport)
And to be proud of our city. Much changed. Two very highly regarded universities; the huge provision of health and social care services; medical and bio-technology research; pharmaceuticals; data warehousing and video games; war-gaming come to that; being the regional capital.
Just headline examples of the most enormous assets we have to draw upon.

But we know the challenges too. The public health emergency; the disrespect for local government from government and the national civil service; the direction of resources away from social need; the forthcoming betrayal of promises made on funding the crisis.
That beyond the national challenges of the off-shoring of the wealth made and an ageing society; and the global challenges of globalisation itself, including upon retail, and climate change.

So welcome Melbourne.
Welcome to a great city with great opportunities; with great challenges too.
Know that you are welcome and you have our support, confident in the selection process and the recommendations.
And be confident in the knowledge of the value we hold for the role of the chief executive and wanting good corporate governance.

Public Health Emergency – revised government advice

Superseded on 1st June, 2020.

The government has issued new advice on how to behave and you should refer to it if seeking advice on what to do. The advice is –
“You must:  Stay at home as much as possible; Work from home if you can; Limit contact with other people; Keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible); Wash your hands regularly; Self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.”

A previous web-page I published is now marked as superseded.

You will always use your own judgement on all advice issued.
There may be issues about whether it is safe to return to work. The Government has now said you should talk to your employer first. The law will support you if you believe the workplace to be unsafe: discuss such issues first with managers, and then staff reps (or your trade union), and then with perhaps health & safety agencies, or public health agencies, including the function run by Nottingham City Council – phone 01159155555.
Same applies if your own health, and/or the welfare of friends and family, would be affected by a return to work.
There is advice on how you should travel to work.
There was some unclarity about the new guidance, so I have updated this part of the advice.

My contact details are available and you can phone or text me on 07876203352.  
You can write to me at michael.edwards@nottinghamcity.gov.uk 

Lilian Greenwood MP continues to reach out to her constituents.  
My trade union, TSSA, continues to represent its members. 
Responses of other service providers – 
Nottingham City Transport
Nottingham Express Transit
Nottingham City Homes

How on earth did it come to this?

Keir Starmer took apart Johnson’s claims of Britain’s apparent success in tackling Covid-19 in the Hour of Commons.

As seen by Matthew Parris.

Lilian Greenwood was to ask a question on council finances. Citing Nottingham City Council’s challenge of £56 million, Boris Johnson said the bill would be met and that Nottingham had already had £19 million.

Government publishes new statements on Covid-19 deaths

The publication of new data by the government shows that 3 people from The Meadows have died; their deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) between 1 March and 17 April 2020. 76 people for Nottingham in total.

Data for a range of purposes are collected in output areas and then sometimes presented in collections of these areas in super output areas, There are 2 that cover The Meadows, that together are quite similar to the old Bridge ward. Source: Office for National Statistics.

“People living in more deprived areas have experienced COVID-19 mortality rates more than double those living in less deprived areas. General mortality rates are normally higher in more deprived areas, but so far COVID-19 appears to be taking them higher still.”
Nick Stripe, Head of Health Analysis, Office for National Statistics.

76 deaths of Nottingham city residents is slightly above the 71 that might be expected for share of population.
Whilst above the national trend, not as much as might be suggested given the deprivation in Nottingham.
The numbers of lab-confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Nottingham continues to be significantly below what might be suggested by share of population.
The reason for this is not known, but has been a trend for 3-4 weeks.

Assuming a UK population of 67.9 million, and a Nottingham population of 331 thousand, Nottingham’s share of 177 thousand cases nationally, by population would be 865, using figures published by PHE on 1st May.
If we round Nottingham’s figures down, assuming students are living away, the share would be 784 (within 300,000 people).
However, the number of cases are lower than these expectations – 518.  
I have therefore asked whether Nottingham has been under-testing, and have been advised that Nottingham is not, despite an assertion from an acquaintance. 

Assuming a Meadows population of 9 thousand, the share of cases might be 14, or 23, depending on sharing the Nottingham case figure or the national case figure.  
PHE have published 27,510 deaths in which Covid-19 has been involved, a Nottingham share of which might be 80, or 134, and a Meadows share of which might be 2, or 3.
However, PHE have published datasets (showing deaths by Super Output Areas) running up until April 17th, at which time, the national death rate figure was 14,756.  
This might suggest that the number of deaths in The Meadows might now stand at 5 or 6.  
At such low numbers, such figures can only be treated as indicative.  
But it does suggest that whilst The Meadows case rate is below national average, the death rate is above.

The main finding drawn from the SOA datasets that death rates are higher in the more deprived neighbourhoods (see quote).
Note, an FT journalist has published a much higher national number of deaths at 48,100 (30th April), suggesting a Nottingham figure of 234 and a Meadows figure of 6 (both by share of population).

The purpose of the additional calculations are to give a sense of local perspective, and to prompt questions of public health officers.e.g. are we testing enough in Nottingham? And how many of us have had the disease? Can you reasonably loosen the lockdown?

One scientist has published calculations of the fatality rate of .75% (+/- .26%).
Assuming 60,000 of those who have or have had the disease have died (increases on the FT journalist figure), this suggests only 12% of us (or perhaps 9%, or perhaps 18%) have or had have the disease, well below the often cited 60% required to stop the disease spreading without special measures.
But such figures are not being publicly rehearsed; so perhaps such a calculation is not legitimate, or it is still not known how to calculate such a figure.

Veracity of Government statements on the public health emergency

A plot that shows deaths in each country per million, which shows the UK doing better than most. Starting with the optimistic, there is a take that suggests the UK has had a lower rate of deaths than other European countries, once you take the population into account.

A number of critiques of the veracity of Government statements on the public health emergency are now being published, which I’m collating here, but with one big qualification. I’m not trained in public health emergencies or understanding the spread of a disease. I’m collating the points here to boost my own understanding, and am willing to update the analysis in response to points from others.

At a summary level, the criticisms are –
– the Government was too relaxed at the outset, because it assumed the human cost of allowing the Covid-19 disease to spread faster was going to be lower; and it only changed to a suppression policy to reduce the numbers needing intensive care in hospitals at a later stage; suggested that this was change came from a paper by the Imperial College dated March 16th; (original assertion was asserted to be backed up from overheard comments and alleged views of the Prime Minister’s most special advisor);
– that the death rates that are published for each day do not show the deaths from each day properly since the figures have initially shown extra deaths in hospitals, and that the time taken to report a death varies; also the figures of deaths from outside hospitals are less well known; since these numbers are used in analyses to show progress compared with other countries, a false perception of the effectiveness of public health policies may develop; (see Guardian, 4th April)
– the Government has at times seemed to really stress how important testing of people is; to see if they have the disease was vitally important; but the targets published were never properly established with target dates; the failure to test has also compromised the ability of many who had stayed at home in case they were poorly, when in fact they could have returned to essential work; or worse still others stayed at vital post when they should have gone home; (see Guardian, 3rd April)
– the Government has at times suggested the ability to test huge numbers of people for having had the virus would be available soon, when such a test has not been established; ability of people to return to essential work, having had the disease in a mild form, was another key strand for relieving the pressures upon those in essential work; without testing more widely for people who have anti-bodies having had the disease but shown no symptoms, or very mild symptons and recovered, compromises understanding the knowledge of the disease and the ability to increase the numbers of people who can return to essential work; (again Guardian, 3rd April)
– there appears to have been missed opportunities to provide more personal protection equipment for health workers;
– there are appears to have been missed opportunities to have provided more respirators; (e.g. Metro, 4th April);
– there was a failure to taken on the lessons from an emergency planning exercise conducted in 2015; (acknowledged by a senior civil servant)

I have more criticisms that perhaps haven’t been cited by others –
– I think the use of “mild” or “moderate” to describe the types of experience of the disease is misleading cos the threshold is too high, e.g. whether they went to hospital;
– no system has been established (or perhaps formally recognised) to allow people to report effectively that they think they’ve had the disease;
– that medical professionals have been too wooly on in the face of questions about people being able to catch the disease more than once; either more needed to be said about how any virus can change, or much more said about the rarity of such events with other diseases;
– that “we’ll get through this” is not something to be thankful to anyone for; the challenge is that we get through this in the best possible way;
– that a project management response might have been a better model than a “this is like fighting a war”; this would have placed greater emphasis on target milestones and progress checkpoints.

None of the above is meant to suggest criticism of national policy for paying head to behavioural science (how people will actually behave given the national advice) – I can perhaps understand that Sweden can properly expect more of its citizens to follow social distance guidance. And countries like China and Singapore, and perhaps even South Korea, are more schooled (or oppressed) in accepting central government edicts and dictations.

The UK has not had the gauche national public health approach advocated in Spain, or the way out there nonsense of Trump’s political statements.

If a response is to all the above is to say “now is not the time for such analyses”, I may well say fair enough, and I just wanted to log the main points of concern.
But what is standard in project management in other disciplines, is that there are reviews of what went right and what could have been done better. I’ve no doubt emergency planners everywhere will conduct such a review, but will a public review be conducted?