Peers Recognise Ambitious Council
Published date: 21 March 2023
Published date: 21 March 2023
A financially stable Council whose vision and priorities are informed by local context are just two of the headlines from a report following a visit from critical friends.
Bromsgrove District Council requested a Peer Review which, a couple of weeks ago, saw eight representatives from local authorities across the country speak to 130 staff, members, and partners.
The peers used their experience and knowledge of local government to reflect on the information presented to them by people they met, things they saw and material that they read.
After taking part in 55 meetings, the peers have drafted a report with feedback which the Council will consider as part of its continued journey of improvement.
The peers noted that shared services with Redditch Borough Council, which was also a part of the joint review, was working well and that both authorities had good relationships with partners. It was felt that both Councils were working well in the current challenging environments and were commended for their strong response during the pandemic.
Bromsgrove District Council Leader Karen May said: “The Council came into its own during the pandemic with officers delivering the same level of services, and more, seamlessly after literally finding ourselves working remotely overnight. I am pleased to see that the strong commitment that the Council shows to working in partnership has been highlighted as a particular strength.
“The peers recognised we have not let up momentum even post pandemic, and I am delighted that this Council has now taken the time to request this review and will take further time to consider the feedback and look at how far we have come and indeed the direction of travel which we have to take to continue to improve.
“Feedback also highlighted the ambitious plans of elected members; the future market hall site development, the Windsor Street proposals, building a district filled with independent traders, and finding a potential partner to help run the Artrix definitely fit the bill and are in the process of coming to fruition. I am pleased that shared services has been recognised too, as a success, yet we still take the local context into consideration when setting our priorities because our demographics are so different and unique.
“The peers were made-up of cross-party members who all commended our ambition and successes which has given us the validation that we are working for the good of the district and will continue to do so.”
The peers, which included the Leader of a Council, a council chief executive and a representative from the Local Government Association, urged the Council not to take its eye off the ball as staffing issues in the financial department remained a risk (given the national shortage) and that the finance recovery plan which was developed to address the recommendations from the auditors around the Section 24 notice and the Interim Annual Audit Report should be delivered.
Chief Executive Kevin Dicks said: “I was delighted that residents identified strongly with their areas and were broadly positive about the Councils.
“The review is designed to complement and add value to a Council’s own performance and improvement focus, and we will consider the feedback in its entirety and develop an action plan to address the key recommendation and build upon our successes.”