Peer challenge team praises city council ambition

News release from 14/12/2017

AN INDEPENDENT review of Cambridge City Council’s prospects has concluded the council is well run, is working well in partnership to improve the quality of residents’ lives and knows the things it needs to do better.

This view was arrived at by a team of officers and councillors from other UK authorities who were invited to Cambridge by the council, to provide an independent review of its strengths and areas for improvement.

The team gathered views and opinions about the council through more than 50 meetings, workshops and interviews with 95 people, including local community representatives, business people, councillors, senior officers and others between 11 and 14 December.

Today (14 December), they gave preliminary feedback on their findings ahead of publishing a full report at the end of January.

The team said the council is good at:

  • Delivering services which are well received by the public;
  • Building relationships with other agencies was noted as a real strength and helps to make the council a trusted partner;
  • Engaging with residents and stakeholders;
  • Promoting equality and diversity.

The team also said:

  • The council has a workforce that is willing to go above and beyond what is expected of them;
  • Councillors have a real commitment to their wards and the services provided to residents;
    • The council recognises the need to modernise its ICT systems and to develop its people.

Looking to the future, the peer challenge team acknowledged the challenges faced by the council and offered some recommendations to help it continue providing good quality services for residents, businesses and visitors to the city.

The team suggested that the council:

  • Prioritises what is important to for the city and focus on delivery
  • Articulates its vision for the city more clearly
  • Makes sure it continues to adapt to and to change to meet its future challenges.

Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of the Council, said: “The peer challenge team’s impartial and independent assessment of how the council is performing is particularly pleasing because of the many positives they have identified.

“The team recognised that we have adapted well to a number of major challenges, managed our financial position well and recognised the need for us to become even more efficient in delivering our services.

“They highlighted our success in focusing on providing good services to residents and praised our strength in building relationships to get things done. They also praised our clear commitment to the principles of social equality and social mobility which is the basis of our Anti-Poverty Strategy.

“We went into the peer challenge process with an open mind and a genuine willingness to learn in order to improve what we do.

“We have learnt a lot from the challenge, the insights of the expert review team and from the input of dozens of Cambridge people and councillors they talked to. We will make sure the city, and our work across the Greater Cambridge area, benefit from their recommendations.”

The council will produce an action plan to address the points detailed in the team’s final report.

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