Derby City Council has welcomed the recent positive feedback and advice from the Local Government Association (LGA).
In June 2017 the Council invited a team from the LGA to undertake a ‘health check’ of the Council and how it works – a Corporate Peer Challenge.
Since receiving the results of the peer challenge, the Council has been addressing the recommendations, and asked for a follow up visit to help assess progress. Following their visit, the LGA has sent a letter offering a fresh perspective on what the Council is doing well and where there is room for improvement.
The letter will be considered by the Audit Committee at their meeting on Wednesday 6th February.
Some of the LGA’s key findings are:
- Positive progress on culture change, including increased colleague engagement, improvements to communication and more shared leadership activity;
- A rise in trust and an improvement in relationships, bringing about a positive change in the style of leadership;
- The completion of the majority of the Corporate Improvement Plan objectives, such improving risk management, investment in manager development and practical training on political nous.
The letter says that, whilst significant progress has been made, further improvements should be made to further embed our positive work.
The recent LGA review looked at many things, and specifically considered councillor-colleague relationships and behaviours, given the emphasis on this in the original report in 2017.
With that in mind, their letter outlines some key recommendations including:
- relaunching the Member/Officer Code of Conduct
- further work to remind colleagues of the roles of councillors, helping to develop our political nous etc. (this is already underway);
- further steps to embed the confidence that colleagues will be taken seriously, and supported, if they have concerns about any councillor behaviour.
Councillor Chris Poulter, Leader of Derby City Council says of the report’s findings,
“I value the insight the LGA review brought, and their positive feedback. Their letter highlights a material shift at Derby City Council to a ‘can do‘, positive attitude and recognised the Council is making a positive difference to the way we lead and deliver for Derby. As expected there are areas where we want to improve and this gives us fresh impetus to do so.
I would like to thank the LGA and all the members of the Peer Team for coming to Derby. It has been a positive and constructive experience and I am grateful for the insights they have shared.”
Councillor Lisa Eldret, Leader of the Labour Group added,
“As a Labour Group, we want to do everything we can to make sure there are positive relationships across the Council, especially between officers and councillors and councillors and councillors.”
Councillor Ruth Skelton, Liberal Democrats Group Leader,
“We very much welcome the improvements that have happened at the Council over the last six months or so. It is good that this has been recognised by the LGA. The work atmosphere has noticeably changed for the better. There is still work to do though. We believe that governance arrangements still need to be strengthened in order to make a ‘relapse’ very unlikely.”
Councillor Alan Graves, UKIP Group Leader,
“I’m delighted that the LGA has given a positive report on the Council. This is the result of a lot of hard work by councillors and staff since the 2017 peer challenge, and there is much we can be proud of.
“With such a wide-ranging report there are, naturally, a number of issues that we need to address. It was clear that relaunching our guidance governing councillor and officer relationships was a priority and I am pleased that we have made a good start on this. We will also address the other issues raised.”
“I would like to place on record my thanks to the LGA, for the time and effort they spent with us.”
Carole Mills, Chief Executive of Derby City Council says,
“It’s good to see external recognition of the positive improvements the Council has put in place since the original peer review report was published. Colleagues and councillors have worked hard to move things forward. We’ve embraced the recommendations in the recent letter and are taking action to address them as part of our programme of continuous improvement.”
Over 200 councils have undergone an independent peer review since the voluntary scheme was introduced in 2011 to identify improvements. The LGA Corporate Peer Challenge is a proven approach to improvement and provides an in-depth evaluation, shares learning and helps to identify areas to improve.
The report is available to read on our website.