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Council chief: Business has a key role in driving city’s ambition

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”.

Speaking at the latest Breakfast Briefing held by MK Business Leaders Partnership. Mrs Mills (pictured with MKBLP chairman Philip Smith) 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 are required to deliver this, she said.

Milton Keynes’ population is growing, with the city’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.

Mrs Mills 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.

The council already has partnerships with other local authorities, central government, agencies such as the NHS, the fire service and police and with citizens who used and accessed its services.

The council works closely with growth delivery agency the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership and influential groups like MK Business Leaders, MK Business Council, the City Centre Management and MK Transport Partnership.

Mrs Mills 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.”

The council is being encouraged to develop a long-term vision for a greater Milton Keynes which business could help to define, she added.

Mr Smith said its members were aware of the challenges facing the council. “It is not going to get easier,” he said. “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.” 

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