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Peers impressed with council’s response to review

Bromsgrove District councillors have received a ‘glowing’ progress report on the council’s work in response to a recent evaluation.

A local government ‘peer challenge’ last year saw, at the council’s request, a team of senior local government peers from across the country gather in Bromsgrove to scrutinise how the authority works and make recommendations for improvement.

The followup report on what the council has since done on those recommendations was received at last night’s (Jan 24) meeting and has been published.

Cllr Sue Baxter, Deputy Leader of Bromsgrove District Council, said: “This glowing report highlights just how much the council has delivered and continues to deliver on the recommendations we received last year.

“There’s still work to be done of course, but you only need to look at the council chamber itself to see how members from across the political spectrum are more energised than at any time in recent memory.

“Having independent experts bring a critical perspective to what we are trying to do is helping us to deliver the best for our residents.”

The peer challenge saw an eight-strong team of ‘critical friends’ speak to 130 council staff, members, and partners over 55 meetings in 2023, to produce detailed recommendations on what the council does well, and what it could do better, to achieve its goals.

It found a financially stable council whose vision and priorities were informed by local context, and made recommendations on aligning the council’s service delivery to its strategic priorities, its democratic culture, its organisational strategies, and its financial processes.

The follow-up progress report noted:

  • The council’s ‘aspirational and forward-looking’ strategic vision and ‘clear priorities’ could ‘inject confidence and positivity’ in the district.
  • Improved decision-making processes and a more positive democratic culture at the council, with more emphasis on engagement and shared values such as requiring key committees to be chaired by members of opposition parties.
  • New and improved workforce and workplace strategies for staffing and service delivery.
  • That the council ‘appears to be on track’ on progress on the ‘Section 24’ financial management recommendations issued by the council’s auditor, with the peers encouraging the council to ensure that the ongoing work on that is sustained and robust.

Chief Executive Sue Hanley said: “For any organisation advice of this quality, from people this experienced, following such a comprehensive piece of work, is worth its weight in gold, and I’d like to thank the peers and the Local Government Association for their time and support. The action plan based on the key recommendations continues to drive some really positive changes at the heart of the council and its operations, all of which helps us in our work to deliver the council’s vision.”

Read the reports here.

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