The ‘baby-boomer generation’ was said to last from 1945 to 1965, so I am a ‘bang in the middle founder member’, who is privileged to be a fully paid up Yorkshireman to boot!
In fact I was born on Chants Ave in West Hull to parents, one a paint salesman and the other a secretary, who lived in a rented house on the corner of Bricknell avenue. My father was a Londoner, born in Bow, in the proper East End, so that makes me 50% Cockney too! My mother is the daughter of the ‘Smiths Butcher’ family famous in Hull during the second world war for their ‘Pork Pies’!
My parents believed in sending me a my brother to the best school, so despite their modest background saved hard to send us both to Hymers College. It wasn’t perhaps as good a school as it is today but I am very grateful to my parents for the education it gave me. I also attended Bricknell Infants and Kelvin Hall schools, of which I am equally proud.
The Chants Ave area has played an enormous part in my life because as well as living there for a majority of my life, I have also attended Hull University, worked for Barclays Bank (on the corner of Westbourne Avenue) and I now own property and businesses in the area too.
My father, an exiled Arsenal supporter, took me to my first Hull City match in 1962 and I can count on the fingers of one hand the numbers of home games I have missed since! In fact supporting the Tigers is the main reason I never moved away despite having jobs where moving away were expected for career progression!
In fact I left Barclays because they wanted me to move to Whitby! I joined the NHS as a Higher Clerical Officer at Hull Royal Infirmary in 1978. What a culture shock that was, particularly as ‘The Winter of Discontent’ was just around the corner. I found myself cooking patients meals and working the hospital incinerator during the strikes with my first mentor a wonderful old chap called Gordon Nutbrown. He had worked in the NHS from before it was born on the 5th July 1948 and he fascinated me with his stories of life as a Hospital Administrator after the second world war.
We manned the incinerator together, with Geraldine the boiler house cat, for days on end. It gave me an insight into life as a Hospital Porter and we certainly understood why they were on strike for more money!!
My next mentor was another guy who was ahead of his time, John Wardle. He was Hospital Administrator at Kingston General Hospital and he had the vision to appoint me his Deputy in 1982. John also retained his previous role in Mental Health which meant I had fantastic first hand experience in working with the brilliant staff and patients in this important and often neglected field of healthcare.
John knew the importance of ‘quality healthcare’ when nobody else talked about such things! He also wanted his deputy to know what it was like to work at the sharp end too, so he sent me to work as a Nursing Auxiliary,Physiotherapy Helper and to the Day Hospital outreach team working with the elderly on Orchard Park Estate.
This experience was fantastic and it made me have at least a basic understanding of what it was like to care for patients in some unbelievably difficult conditions. Working for John Wardle really shaped my values of the importance of good quality public services and really made me appreciate how important front line care staff are.
I even took over as Administrator of KGH when he left until I too move back to HRI when my undoubted managerial talents were recognised and I was appointed General Manager for Surgery in the Acute Trust by another of my mentors, David Haire in 1991.
David’s capacity for work was incredible as he worked 12 hour days, often for 6 or even 7 days a week. He always said though how much he envied the General Managers who worked at the Operational coalface!
When Royal Hull Hospitals merged with East Yorkshire Hospitals in 1999, David the Operations Director under the Chief Executive, made me General Manager of Critical Care & Surgery. I subsequently, when David moved to a new role, reported directly to my final working life mentor, The CEO, Chris Appelby. I was based at Castle Hill Hospital and probably had the most enjoyable period of my working life in the NHS under Chris.
Chris was the most cunning, devious, slippery ‘so and so’ and it gave me a wonderful grounding in machiavellian political wheeler dealing! I managed over 100 Consultant Medical Staff (savaged by professionals daily!) and 1500 Nurses, in 14 Surgical and Anaesthetic Specialties including Cardiac Surgery, Neurosurgery, Plastic Surgery, Intensive Care, A & E, and Theatres on both HRI and Castle Hill.
I had a budget of £75m with over 250 budget holders and a recurring overspend pressure which conflicted with the need to increase activity to meet waiting list targets! I worked with a dedicated hard working, small team of excellent Operational Managers who had an impossible job, but we always felt we were special because we were intimately working with some great Doctors and Nurses providing the best care we could in very demanding circumstances.
Whilst working very long hours including providing ‘out of hours’ on call cover, my Wife and I managed to start a fledgling property business working at the weekends. I started with a Shop on Chanterlands Avenue which I inherited from my wonderful maternal Grandma and then leveraged off it, to put down deposits on several more shops and houses.
I was ‘in on the ground floor’ when the private student property market established in Hull in the early 1990’s and in the next 15 years built up quite a large portfolio of Commercial and Residential units around West Hull and Brough.
I was therefore in the fortunate position of being self supporting when life in the NHS became very tough for me and many of my colleagues. The New Labour Government from 1997 had invested heavily in the NHS and were rightly proud of their Bevin legacy, but in many peoples view, they lost sight of his founding principles.
Targets were the overwhelming mantra and I’m afraid bullying of staff became endemic! I was alone amongst the Managers in having the ‘where with all’ to be able to fight this culture as I refused to be bullied by anyone! This experience of bullying has shaped an important part of my psyche and where ever I witness it’s manifestation I will fight it tooth and nail!!
Eventually in 2006 after being told to tell Surgeons to operate on patients to meet targets rather than meet their care requirements once too often, I agreed with the new CEO(also a bullying victim) it was time for me to spend my full time on the Family Property business.
Stafford Hospital is the tip of the iceberg and I wanted none of it in Hull.
I had a fantastic 28 years in Senior NHS Operational Management and I don’t regret a day.
The Financial Crash of 2008 came soon after I was left to concentrate on my private businesses which made life interesting. Losing 25% of the value of my assets almost overnight and going from the Banks lending me almost anything I asked for, to the opposite extreme in a matter of days was unbelievably difficult too.
So as well as ruining my beloved NHS with its target culture, New Labour also crashed the economy and were responsible for irresponsible Banking supervision too!
It was therefore no coincidence that I found myself resolving to fight back by throwing cushions at Gordon Brown whenever he came on the TV!
Councillor Paul Robinson and subsequently Councillor Matthew Grove were directly responsible for motivating me to really fight back by becoming a Ward Councillor as a vacancy had arisen in my Ward of Willerby & Kirkella.
After a false start in 2010 (the ghost candidate scandal), I was subsequently elected as Member for Willerby & Kirkella on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council in the May 2011 elections.
In the intervening 3 years I have really honed my political skills and have learnt a huge amount representing the 11500 people in my Ward.
Working very closely with Matthew Grove in November 2012 when he won a Nationally significant Tory victory to defeat Lord Prescott to become Police and Crime Commissioner, has probably been my highlight so far. I have however also really enjoyed working with Residents in the Ward and particularly chairing a dozen or more Public meetings on numerous diverse matter, such as Wind Turbines, Cafe bars, Housing Developments and much more!
I think I have quite an interesting Public/Private background in both my education and work life which have very much shaped my political beliefs and values.
- Public Services should be responsive to residents/patients needs, be of the highest and most efficient quality, but most importantly be fundamentally caring.
- Small and Medium Business Entrepreneurs are this Countries life blood too and we need to do everything to make sure this sector flourishes! The burden of the State should be the smallest possible on the back of them and Banks should hold them in the highest esteem possible!
- ‘The Family and The Community’ above all else.
- Finally, Politics gives the opportunity for me to help others and hopefully make things better or at least not worse!
- Politicians should serve and not be in for their own ends!
- You shouldn’t need ‘photo opportunities’ for the residents to know your doing a good job!
I left the NHS in 2006