06/04/17: Review finds Breckland Council is 'doing a good job for residents'

A review of Breckland Council has found that it is 'doing a good job for residents', 'has strong and effective leadership', and demonstrates 'sound financial management'.

The findings come from a Corporate Peer Challenge report, which was presented to Breckland Council members today (6 April).

The report has been written by a team of Local Government Association (LGA) peer reviewers, comprising senior officers and councillors from other parts of the country, who spent five days in December scrutinising various council plans and interviewing council staff and members, as well as representatives from a number of businesses and partner organisations which work with the councils.

The review covered Breckland Council and its partner council, South Holland District Council, in Lincolnshire, with which Breckland shares a senior management team.

Leader of Breckland Council William Nunn explained why both councils invited the peer review: "We have worked hard to protect and improve our services and made significant progress with initiatives aimed at supporting the districts to grow and thrive.

"However, we strive for continuous improvement and getting input from experienced peers will be invaluable in helping us to consolidate our good progress and build on areas in which we can improve."

Review key findings:
•    'Both councils are doing a good job for their residents, with a range of good quality services and involvement in a number of major projects central to economic growth.'

•    'Both councils have good quality elected members and there are positive relationships between councillors and officers at all levels.'

•     'It is clear that significant progress has been made in relation to many of the areas that the councils have sought to improve over recent years and elected members and staff of both councils should be applauded for this.'

•    'The two councils demonstrate sound financial management. Whilst they face an on-going financial challenge... they have adopted a positive approach...'

•    'It is really positive that, even beyond those service areas and functions that operate under shared management, there is good networking, sharing and cross-fertilisation of ideas between the two councils.'

The report also highlighted some areas for future development. These included clarifying 'how the growth agenda is going to be shaped [and a] need to ensure the ambitions are clear.

At its meeting tomorrow, Breckland Council will be asked to agree a recommendation for the Chief Executive to work with the Leader to develop an action plan based on the findings of the Peer Challenge report.

Commenting on the report findings, Cllr Nunn added: "I'm pleased that the review has recognised the investment we have made in developing our staff and our commitment to adapting how we work to best meet the changing needs of local residents and businesses.

"The peer reviewers noted the financial and knowledge benefits that our unique shared management arrangement has brought so far and highlighted that this has the potential for even greater rewards in the future.

"The review has also helped to identify some other ways in which we can improve - which is exactly what we were hoping for - and we will now consider how this can help shape our ongoing development."

Download the report at http://democracy.breckland.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=117&MId=3857