Review finds SHDC is 'doing a good job for residents'
A review of South Holland District 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 Council members last night (12 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 South Holland District Council and its partner authority, Breckland Council, in Norfolk, with which South Holland shares a senior management team.
Leader of South Holland District Council Gary Porter explained why both councils invited the peer review: "We are committed to protecting and improving our services which our residents rely on. Getting input from experienced peers from external organisations will prove invaluable in helping us maintain our progress and work on areas which need improvement."
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.
It also cited that while new management of Compass Point had had a positive influence, work is still ongoing to achieve further improvements.
At its meeting, South Holland members agreed 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 Porter added: "The review recognised that improvements have been made in developing our staff and adapting to meet the changing needs of residents and businesses, all of which have been delivered against financial challenges.
"The peer reviewers also highlighted the benefits of our shared management structure but stressed that this has potential for even greater success in future.
"The review has given us plenty of food for thought, which is exactly what we wanted, so now myself and the Chief Executive will work on an action plan to help us shape our ongoing development. We will then seek Cabinet and Council approval for the plan so that the whole organisation owns and works with the plan."