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Surrey Matters podcast

Published: 17 June 2021

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Listen up Surrey!

The Surrey County Council Communications and Engagement team are pleased to announce the launch of the Surrey Matters podcast. Going behind the scenes of Surrey County Council, the county and the people who bring services to you.

Episode 3

  • Paul Barnett from the Surrey Environment Partnership tells us about a compost bin offer which might help with green bin collections particularly with driver shortages across the country
  • Councillor Mark Nuti talks about how Surrey County Council are empowering communities to Make It Happen with details of a £100m fund he is giving to communities
  • Phil Stonebanks Watch Commander at Surrey Fire and Rescue Service Prevention Team has details about free Safe and Well visits that can be booked
  • Joanna Killian Chief Executive of Surrey County Council gives a frank and honest interview about her early life, her hopes and fears for Surrey and tells us who her dream dinner party guests would be.

We hope you enjoy the show. If you have some ideas for an interesting podcast story please send us an email with the subject line 'Surrey Matters Podcast' to

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Episode 3 Transcript

Welcome to Episode 3 of the Surrey Matters podcast. Going behind the scenes meeting the people bringing services to you. Talking to residents about what matters to them and their communities. And letting you know what's going on in your county. Brought to you by the Surrey County Council Communications Team.

Hi I'm CJ and I'm joined by Danielle. Hi Danielle. Hi CJ – so who've we been talking with in episode 3. Well Danielle this episode it's a story of the 4 Cs. Compost Bins. Communities. Chief Executives and Checking those smoke alarms. Joanna Killian Chief Executive of Surrey County Council, tells us what keeps her up at night and what's in store for the future of Surrey. Councillor Mark Nuti was out in the community at Surrey Pride talking about how communities are making it happen by joining up and joining in and information about a £100m fund available for communities to improve their local areas. You've been busy too talking to Surrey Fire and Rescue Service about free Safe and Well visits about checking to make sure Surrey's most vulnerable aren't at risk are from fire, and news of a COMPOST offer to help with green waste collections… And we also tell you about lots of other things coming up in October. I've got news of a great compost bin offer for residents that will help where green collections may have been held up by the national HGV driver shortage.

I caught up with Paul Barnett from the Surrey Environment Partnership team. He told me more about home composting and an exclusive offer available to Surrey residents. Hi Paul how are you? I'm very well thanks and introduce yourself to our Surrey listeners and tell us a bit more about the Surrey Environment Partnership Surrey Environment Partnership is a partnership of all of the councils in Surrey so that's the 11 District and Borough Council's and Surrey County Council and together they put in money to fund projects that we do and that help to increase recycling and reduce waste in the county and the reason for us doing that is that some of our projects can be done across the whole County and it makes more sense to do these projects once across the whole County rather than 11 times in the different district and borough areas in Surrey.

So how can they get involved and how can they take up the offer. The first thing to do is if you need to composting is to go to our website which is Surrey EP dot and the big banner on our homepage at the moment and if you click on that you'll go through to the details of the subsidy scheme. If you're a Surrey resident you can buy a 220litre compost bin for a total of £17.70 and that includes free delivery so that's the first thing that you need to do. When you're there you'll probably feel that we've got lots of other information on our website about composting so everything that you need to know should be on there. But the basics of it are:- is that you can put your garden waste into the compost bin. You can put some food waste things like vegetable peelings in there as well and you can also put some paper and card in there if you kind of tear it up quite small so you can put that all into a compost bin it will take you some time to fill your compost bin. Once you have, what you'll hopefully find is that the material that is at the bottom of the bin has turned into compost. But it basically works by lots of little little bugs and insects and microbes kind of eating away all the content in there and it turns it into this stuff which is compost which is kind of like soil and then you can, once it's turned into compost you can then spread the compost on your garden and it really helps improve the quality of your soil you'll get better growing plants so it all goes back to where it came from. Such a really nice friendly thing to do for the environment for your garden doesn't cost anything apart from £17.70. That's the best thing that you can do with garden waste for the environment. But you know obviously you can sign up to your local garden waste collection service, if there is one running at the moment, but obviously that involves certain amount of emissions from the vehicles that have to come round and collect it. So environmentally the best thing that you can do for garden waste is to compost at home. I'm sure that people will take you up on that offer as well especially as that helps towards climate change and being sustainable.

If residents don't wish to compost is there is another way that they can get rid of a garden waste as there's an impact on collections at the moment? If you haven't got a collection service running in your area then the best thing to do with your garden waste is to take it to your local Community Recycling Centre and they'll have containers there which you can put your garden waste into and then your garden waste will be taken and composted in the normal way.

Next up I caught up with Councillor Mark Nuti whilst at this year's Surrey Pride who's telling me all about some new initiatives getting closer to our Communities to better understand them it's all about working with them closer to empower them to improve their local areas and help them thrive. Hi I'm at Surrey Pride a great community event and I'm here meeting Councillor Mark Nuti. Hi Mark how are you?

Hi listeners I'm here at Surrey Pride a great community event and I'm here meeting Councillor Mark Nuti – Hi Mark how are you – yeah hi CJ yeah great wow what a fantastic day so many people here its amazing. Can you tell us what's your cabinet position Mark ? I'm cabinet member for communities that involves libraries registrations, customer service, coroners fire and safety health and safety lots of things all pretty much resident focussed. I notice a stand here called Make It Happen about Empowering Communities can you tell us a bit more about what that empowering communities is all about? Yes certainly it's something we decided we really need to do as a county council more to encourage people our residents the people we look after to start to play a more interactive role in their communities and the decisions we make. Joining up joining in and helping to shape their future. I believe you have some projects haven't' you are going on and you've been out on the road meeting people in the community and is it something called Your Fund Surrey. Yes it' [s been great over the summer we had 3 different events across the county meeting people listening to them hearing about their ideas. And Your Fund Surrey which is £100 million of council money. Yes £100m for community led projects so projects coming directly from people's ideas, dreams, and aspirations in their local community something that will really make a big difference to where they live and the people that live there. And for once we're not telling them how to spend the money, we want them to tell us what they need. And what sort of projects are we talking about here? Well it could be anything and everything really a statue, a community centre. One example recently is a derelict Victorian fire station which they want to do up its Grade 2 listed building and then that will become a community hub a coffee shop a room to let for groups in the area and it will be there for memoriam for everybody to use in the years to come. And can anyone put an idea forward how does it work? Absolutely anyone the most important thing is the ideas; it's not about filling in the forms. It's about the idea come and talk to one of your local councillors come and talk to us at Surrey County Council and we'll help you Make It Happen. So, you don't have to have experience about doing this sort of thing then it's all about getting people together then? Absolutely we've gone out of way to make it a non-form filling exercise this is about talking to residents, listening to them and helping them to get money that normally they wouldn't be able to do because of the process and being up against people who are used to doing this sort of thing. And is there a closing date for this? We have a £100m so I'm pretty sure we're not going to run out of it just yet. We've got 5 years so there's no rush, it's all about getting the idea, building the idea up, really thinking it through and getting the support of your community. and that could take 6 months could take a year, two years it doesn't matter we're not going anywhere. And we don't want people to have to rush to not be ready to bring the project that they want to bring forward. And what did you say it was called Your Fund Surrey? Your Fund Surrey yes that's right YFS and you should over the next 6 months see more advertising about this locally. And this is all part of this Make It Happen thing we've some of around here today. And I understand you've also set up some Local Community Networks as part of this initiative as a way of empowering communities. Yes, it's about delving down deep into our communities which may seem obvious for people but at times I don't think we listen to what residents have to say in the past. So as a County Council we're very very keen that the limited resources we have are used to the best ability and who's best to know where this is best spent in their areas. Who are living in these areas. They know who their neighbours are, where the vulnerable people are, so we want to talk to them and we want them to help us to improve Surrey as a county. Sounds great it sounds exciting so we're at the beginning of the journey then? Yes it is and it's what we're here to do we're here to help residents. And lovely thing about this and the team are fully behind this is we're actually getting out and about talking to people and who doesn't like to have a good chat. I certainly do. So head over to the Make It Happen website lots of opportunities to get involved in their local area, join up, join in. Find out what's going on in the local area. Absolutely the more the merrier. We will be in your area soon and we'll be in your area soon. Watch out for the unusual posters – look out for the ducks. Ahh cryptic. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Mark. Great CJ lovely to see you.

The Surrey Fire and Rescue team explain more about the Safe and Well Fire Prevention service available to residents. I work within the team that consists of six partnership officers and we cover the whole of Surrey keeping vulnerable adults safe within their homes safe and well visits. So basically Surrey Fire and Rescue Service can go out to anyone's home within Surrey and we give safety advice to the general public to keep them safe within the home from Fire. We also put up smoke detectors normally it's one on each floor and we can also provide a carbon monoxide detectors as well to keep people safe within the home. Safe and Well service is a free service to residents for a safety check and a fire engine or a fire service member or personnel will come out to the property and complete one and tell you about fire safety risks. Can you tell us a bit more about what vulnerable to fire means and how we know what to look out for if someone we know is at risk? The prevention team generally focus on our main goal is to focus on the vulnerable within Surrey can be a big array of vulnerability so there is mental health, so dementia and those under the dementia umbrella, there is alcohol drug dependent people. We visit deaf and blind, those with mobility issues, elderly, smokers and other people with other disabilities so it's us focusing and helping the vulnerable to be safe within their home. We work with adult social services it's working closely with family members, carers, care agencies neighbours and it's just a goal is to keep the vulnerable safe as long as possible. So if a resident would like to book a safe and well visit how would they do that? It's completely free all they need to do is if they've got access to the internet they can go onto the Surrey County Council website and they can search the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service and on our page there is a book a safe and well visit or you can ring a telephone number of 0800 0857609 they will take your information, your name address and telephone number. Thanks for letting us know more about the safe and well prevention campaign Phill and it was great to talk to you many thanks bye bye.

I met with Joanna Killian the chief executive at Surrey County Council for an open and honest conversation about her journey to becoming chief executive she told us about the people that inspired her as a young girl caring for her widowed father and I asked her what keeps you up at night and what the future holds for Surrey and she also told us who her dream dinner party guests would be.

I'm Joanna Killian and I am chief exec at Surrey County Council currently. So how long have you been in that role. I have been at Surrey County Council for about three-and-a-half years now as chief executive of a local authority I mean is an incredible job and I'm really lucky to do it. I work on behalf of all councillors but in particular the leader and the cabinet here in Surrey. My job is to translate the priorities that they have into operational action which sounds a bit dull but the reality is my job is about making sure that we deliver really high quality services to our residents. Tell us a little bit about where you grew up what your parents did for a living and give us a bit of background of how you ended up here at Surrey County Council. To start where did you grow up? I grew up in a small village in Bedfordshire my parents were both Irish immigrants my dad was a labourer and my mum was a nurse. They met in London and decided to move into the countryside so I grew up in the village for a while. Unfortunately my mum died when I was a child so my life changed incredibly actually, so I was brought up by a single dad which is one of the reasons why I feel so attracted and feel the importance of delivering great public service and the importance of having really good relationships in school. I didn't have a sort of goal in mind but those circumstances definitely taught me to be independent. I relied a lot on teachers and friends at school who understood my circumstances and really sort of helped me cope day-to-day but also helped me through exams and gave me the confidence to actually think that I could get out of a situation I was in, that I was in and actually could go to University.

So for me I have huge admiration for teachers educators for without them I would just not be in this position. I didn't think I would be capable of doing anything really. I became a carer for my father who became very unwell so it was yeah it was teachers and friends at school but gave me the courage to think actually I could do my o-levels and my A-levels. Actually I thought in the end being able to go to university was a way of escaping but a way of separating of what had been a traumatic time into much more positive future. I was the first person in my family to go to university and which was incredible thing, given some of the issues that I encountered as I grew up.

So as Chief Executive do you get time off at the weekend or are you like the prime minister getting up at 4am in the morning - answering calls and that sort of stuff ? it is it pretty full or do you get some downtime. Being a chief exec in an organisation like this you know it's a full-time job including at weekend so I'm always mindful that I'm on the job but not in a way that means that I can't rest and relax. Like many senior leaders are you know I'm on call often but that I see that as a fundamental part of my job. But something I enjoy actually and if I didn't enjoy my job I wouldn't be doing it. Yeah do work a little bit at the weekends.

What is the most frustrating part about your job? I try and not to let myself get so frustrated because I think it's difficult to be positive and achieve good change. But there are things that I think are just wrong. I recognise still there is discrimination and disadvantage and I'm so pleased that we are sort of moving forward as an organisation to make sure that Surrey County Council is an incredibly inclusive place to work. A place where you can come and be yourself but also recognising there is more to do in our communities. So COVID has massively changed everybody's lives and the way they work and the way we are at home.

What's been your biggest challenge in the event of COVID and prior to COVID in terms of your time at Surrey County Council?

I guess over the last 18 months it's been extraordinary for all of us living through a pandemic and as a chief exec I guess the challenge has been supporting and empowering staff to think that actually they could perform as well as they have done while working at home. I think staff have been sort of exemplary while coping with their own personal pressures it's been incredible to see so many people home-school the kids. You know act as carers and sort of cope with grief unfortunately. So with all our key statutory partners we had very clear programmes of work that we deliver a lot of support into our communities at short notice that we kept care homes going because we had great PPE stocks that we could get the most vulnerable off the streets you know we did I think a good job under extreme pressure.

So as I joined there was an urgent need to repair the financial situation. We had recognised that we weren't doing as well as we should have done for vulnerable children, you know, an inspection had also told us that, you know, we needed to do better in terms of delivering efficient fire services. For 18 months working very closely with politicians I think we've got the organisation to be much more effective and for me much more confident. Managers I think, you know, felt that much more empowered to do a great job. So when the pandemic came it felt like we were in a strong position to lead and that's I think giving us lots of opportunities now going forward. I think our partnership working is really strong, yeah we know our communities more . But there has been some desperately sad things too. So we lost Dave Hill who was our director of children's services through the pandemic. I had worked with Dave for a long time and that was such a terrible shock for all of us and I think brought home the grief that other families must have been feeling up and down the country as they lost people too.

But we're now sort of focussed on sort of moving forward. There's lots of things still to do and I think the future looks good actually for Surrey. So going forward - so we come through COVID-19, we've done well as a council as you say. So what are you looking forward to achieving next? Going forward I think we've got some very clear priorities as an organisation it's critical that particularly coming out of COVID we work now with all our partners, boroughs and districts and health partners but particularly with Communities actually, to tackle sort of the inequalities that became much more stark and obvious to all of us particularly health inequalities. We also know that Surrey as a place has taken an economic shock as well so I think it's really important that we work with public and private sector, actually, to respond to that shock to make sure as we rebuild that our people have the skills and capabilities that we provide the infrastructure and resources to make sure that business is wants to stay and relocate into Surrey so it's important that we do that. What COVID has taught us is that we've got some of the most incredible residents and communities who actually want to empower more and work with us to deliver some big solutions in their places. Particularly in those areas where there is a difference and inequality, so a lot of work to do that, as well as that I'm absolutely driven to make sure that the improvement work that we've been doing in children's services continues to live a great outcomes for children young people who I think I've really suffered through COVID. But you know we've got to be able to do better and I know that Rachel and the team have done an heroic job particularly through COVID. For me too the pandemic has got to be paid for hasn't it nationally? so I'm worried actually over our finances that will be under a huge amount of pressure and although I don't particularly and I know lots of people in the organisation do not get up just to save money. I think there is an issue for us going forward about how do we continue to deliver everything that we want to do for our residents but with potentially a sort of small bucket of money.

For me you know the big issue of our age is about how we work together to tackle climate change and we've set ourselves some incredibly stretching targets as a nation and as an organisation. I think it's imperative now that we take action and do all we can to sort of ameliorate the impact of climate change because I think the consequences for us economically for our communities, for our environment will be catastrophic. So that for me is the thing that keeps me up at night.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?. I hope to still be busy and active, I'll be 66 by then so nearly a pensioner. I do a lot of charitable voluntary work so I hope that I will be doing that still, I hope to be a Grandma and you know enjoying just a different but fulfilling life.

Who would be your dream dinner party guest and would you cook? So my dream dinner party guests…. I'm going to cheat because I would have a family one and then I would have a celebrity one. I would love to see my mum and dad and some other family members that we've lost along the way but not in a morbid way. It would just be good to have a chat with them see what they've been doing. In terms of my celeb dinner party… I mean some of this will sound a bit cheesy… actually but I would love to have dinner with Barack and Michelle Obama.OK. With you know a bit of Bruce Springsteen thrown in as well. OK. I would also like to invite to that a couple of my best friends who have just been inspirational all my life and kept me going and yeah.

Thanks for listening to our third episode of Surrey Matters, if you'd like to get in touch with us with a question or an idea for what you'd like to hear about in future episodes, you can email us You can subscribe to the show on your podcast player of choice and sign up to our e-newsletter which goes out every month at This show was hosted by myself Catherine Jevans together with Danielle Murray. The music and production was by Richard Neale and Surrey Matters is a production of the Surrey County Council Communications and Engagement Team.

Thanks for listening to our third episode of Surrey Matters, if you'd like to get in touch with us with a question or an idea for what you'd like to hear about in future episodes, you can email us

YOU CAN Subscribe to the show on your podcast player of choice and sign up to our e-newsletter which goes out every month on our Surrey Matters site.

This show was hosted by myself Catherine Jevans together with Danielle Murray. The music and production was by Richard Neale and Surrey Matters is a production of the Surrey County Council Communications and Engagement Team.

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