Praise for ‘ambitious’ councils from local government peers » Babergh Mid Suffolk
Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils are looking to learn from other authorities to further improve their services to residents.
The councils recently hosted a Local Government Association (LGA) Corporate Peer Challenge – where an independent team made up of representatives from other local authorities meet with over 200 interested parties, including residents, customers, staff, councillors, and partners, before giving feedback on possible improvement opportunities.
As part of their report, the team concluded that Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils are well run and deliver good core services to residents.
They described officers as “highly dedicated, committed, and loyal to the organisation and have delivered above and beyond, particularly over the past two years during the pandemic.”
Partners described the councils as “punching above their weight” while the review team praised their ambition and “bold aspirations for place, housing, economic development, skills and innovation” with projects such as the regeneration of Sudbury, Hadleigh, Stowmarket, Needham Market and Eye town centres, plus the development of Gateway 14.
The team noted the councils’ commitment to wellbeing and tackling climate change, particularly the move to transition the entire vehicle fleet, including waste lorries, to run on hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) and the £2.5m investment in solar schemes at our leisure centres.
Council finances were felt to be sound, with recognition for the councils’ profitable commercial ventures, with CIFCO bringing in millions in net income and the growth companies delivering new homes for the districts.
The review team also noted the councils’ investment in the development and wellbeing of its workforce.
However, there were also improvement opportunities for the councils to consider.
With so much ambition, the review team recommended strict prioritisation to help manage delivery within resources and capacity.
There is scope for better understanding and relationships between officers and councillors.
And there is the opportunity to build on the strong connections forged between the councils and its communities over the last two years, with the councils then drawing on the skills and capacity available across the districts to help deliver their vision.
Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils’ chief executive, Arthur Charvonia, said:
“I know how hard our officers work to deliver the best possible services for our residents – but we are always looking for further ways to improve. We are very grateful to the LGA Peer Challenge review team for taking the time to give us their independent feedback and suggestions, and we look forward to implementing their recommendations.”
Mid Suffolk District Council leader, Cllr Suzie Morley, said:
“I am pleased that the LGA Peer Challenge review team recognised the tremendous amount of work that is already underway to turn our vision into reality.
“We were delighted when we were shortlisted as Council of the Year in the 2021 iESE Public Sector Awards, but are still keen to improve and constantly learn from what other authorities are doing so we can truly build great communities with bright and healthy futures that everyone is proud to call home.”
Babergh District Council leader, Cllr John Ward, said:
“I’m particularly pleased to see the praise for how the councils not only delivered ‘above and beyond’ during the pandemic, but have continued to do so since, supporting positive outcomes on health, wellbeing, housing and stimulating economic growth for our residents.
“I wholeheartedly agree that we have much to celebrate – while striving to deliver even more.”
The councils are now developing an action plan to incorporate the improvement opportunities identified. In the meantime, everyone can see the LGA Corporate Peer Challenge feedback report in full on the councils’ website