Positive report for council following corporate peer challenge

Stephen Parnaby

Stephen Parnaby

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An external team of local government assessors has praised the council for its strong performance and financial effectiveness against a challenging environment for the public sector.

In April, the council hosted a visit by an external peer challenge team. The team, lead by Steve Robinson, chief executive from Cheshire West and Chester Council, were here at the invitation of the authority.

The peer challenges are part of a national Local Government Association programme for sector led improvement, where councils can agree the key areas in which their performance will be examined by a team of local government ‘critical friends’.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council nominated three priority areas:

• financial sustainability of the council

• sustainable economic growth in the East Riding

• flood risk management.

The final report, received this month, highlighted a range of strengths, including:

“We were impressed with the political and managerial leadership of the council. Many people we engaged with described the council as a council to be proud of.”

“There is a history of strong financial management with significant savings and robust asset management.”

Flood risk: “We think you are at the leading edge in terms of local government preparedness and could present this approach to Central Government as best practice at a national level.”

“Within the council there is potential to build upon strong performance and capitalise on the exciting Siemens investment.”

“An ambitious transformation programme is in place. The programme has been well planned and identifies clear costs and benefits and mechanisms to hold services to account.”

“Partnership working is very much a strength, and the desire to maintain the LSP (Local Strategic Partnership) reflects this commitment.”

“All the managers and staff we met were passionate about their focus on local residents and businesses.”

“The council values its workforce who are in turn committed to delivering quality services, despite shrinking resources.”

“Effective absence management led to a fall in sickness levels from 10.5 days to 7.5. This is impressive.”

Recommendations on how the council can move forward with the challenges it faces where also made and are now being considered and will be used in future action planning, these included:

pursuing options for pooled budgets, shared services and co-located teams and income generation locally, sub-regionally and nationally

build on successful support to SMEs in start-up incubation units, market and extend the support to SMEs looking to expand and grow

skills development is critical to the delivery of the growth agenda and to residents. Build and accelerate the relationship with business, school, colleges, and universities in order to have a workforce across the region which is skilled to meet the needs of the emerging renewables sector.

Councillor Stephen Parnaby OBE, leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “We welcome the findings of the LGA Corporate Peer Challenge Team and would like to thank them for their time.

“It is always pleasing to receive such a positive report and even more so when it comes from your peers in local government.

“The council will now consider the report recommendations as part of the mid-year review of the council’s business plan and actions taken will be reported back later in the year.”

Steve Robinson, chief executive of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “The peer review team was very impressed with what clearly is an excellent council. There are many services that the rest of local government could emulate.

“Nevertheless, in these challenging times for public services, we identified some areas where we believe the council can take action to make valuable contributions, particularly around areas of economic growth and equipping local people with the right skills.”

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