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Bromsgrove District Council has been recognised for being open to ‘new ideas’ while putting the customer first, according to a report from public sector experts.

However senior managers, officers and Members must also set aside time to pause and reflect on the journey so far to redefine the next steps.

The Corporate Peer Challenge Feedback report follows a visit to both Bromsgrove and Redditch Borough Councils, by colleagues from the Local Government Association (LGA).

Key recommendations include the Council celebrating its shared services success with Redditch borough council, which has saved £7.5m since 2010/11and are continuing to deliver around £1.5m per annum.

To complement this, the report suggests the Council should define a shared, single workforce culture ‘from the bottom up’ to negate the need for two structures and systems of governance.

Peers recommended that financial accountability needs greater ownership throughout the organisation especially around recharging across both authorities.

Bromsgrove District Council leader Geoff Denaro said: “It was really refreshing to have this feedback from our peers as it is all too easy to become complacent and carry on with day to day business without challenge.

“This wasn’t an inspection but an opportunity for us to look at ourselves through someone else’s eyes. There were no surprises but reading the feedback in black and white has encouraged us to re-evaluate the direction of this Council and how we are going to get there.

“It is evident that we need, at times, to put politics to one side and work for the common good of the District and I hope this advice is heeded and Members, officers and partners alike can work together, stronger than ever.

“I am proud that the fact we put the customer at the heart of everything we do has been flagged up and we will continue to do so as we put our long term plan of improvement together.

Corporate Peer Challenges are a national sector-led improvement programme offered to authorities across the country. It’s not an inspection but rather an improvement-focussed process tailored to meet individual council’s needs.

The process, commissioned by the Council, involved engaging with a wide range of people connected with the Council, including officers, Members, partners and the media. Two visits were carried out January, across both Bromsgrove District and Redditch Borough Councils which were recognised as having different communities facing different challenges.

In the report the peers recognised the need for action to raise the conduct of political debate so it is constructive and not undermining of the Council’s reputation.

Chief Executive Kevin Dicks said: “During the visits the peers, who hailed from different councils across the country and the LGA, met with 120 people and held 50 separate meetings.

“It gave us a chance to take a 360 degree look at ourselves and, as one of the first Councils nationally to embark on Shared Services a decade ago, I am pleased our innovation has been recognised.

“We will continue to respond to change to the local government and the wider public services landscape with vigour and this report has re-ignited our passion to do so with, as always, our customer in mind.

A full copy of the report is available here.