Dave Jolley is planning and building control director at Urban Vision, a joint venture launched in 2005 between Salford City Council and outsourcing specialist Capita. The company provides Salford’s planning services and in the last nine years has taken on increasing amounts of work on behalf of other planning authorities across England, Scotland and Wales. Prior to joining Urban Vision, Jolley was assistant director of building and development control at Salford City Council.
Q: What are your objectives in your current role and how are you measured against them?
A: It all comes back to 2005 when the JV went live. The agenda for Salford at the time was that there was an awful lot of regeneration going on. It was all about increasing capacity of the team so that the council could have access to additional capacity when they needed it and equally save money when they didn’t because they wouldn’t need to pay for it. The challenge was and continues to be to deliver the additional capacity Salford needs, but equally to find alternative work for our staff when the extra capacity isn’t needed. We got a lot of support from colleagues in Capita, but that was and remains my key challenge. The target is still the same as it always was: deliver for Salford while growing the business by working for other local authorities.
Q: What key lessons have you learned during your career that help you to fulfil these objectives?
A: Understand the structure of local government and the day-today challenges that public sector planners face. The most important experience in terms of my current role is my work in local government. I understand local government and what planners’ requirements and targets are. Planning has always been a very target driven environment, both in terms of speed and customer service. That experience has certainly helped in a commercial environment because it’s all about providing a cost effective service and meeting customer requirements.
Take into account planners’ motivations and aspirations. Planners want to do a wide range of interesting work and have a decent career path. Pay is always an issue, of course, but it’s much more than that. It’s about offering interesting work and career development. We had a graduate scheme when I was at Salford and it’s something that we continue to do at Capita. Everyone has their own aspirations and we approach that by using mentors. All graduates are given a mentor and together they draw up a career plan. Their progress is tracked using six-monthly appraisals.
Take a proactive approach. Salford has always been a proactive authority, wanting to encourage the right development in the right place. Salford Quays is the classic example. When the docks closed in the early 1980s the council acquired the site we came up with a vision for their redevelopment. That experience translates in my work at Capita. When we’re dealing with planning applications for local authorities we’re trying to be proactive in solving problems and working with the applicant to bring forward proposals that conform to the authority’s planning policy.