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Cambridge City Council

Peer challenge

We were pleased to welcome a Local Government Association peer challenge team to the council in December 2017.

A small team of senior officers and councillors from other councils came to Cambridge to see how we work, how we are planning for the future, and how we are preparing to meet the challenges ahead.

We found the process valuable and challenging, assisted and informed by the involvement and responses of the many organisations we work with. The peer challenge team’s feedback has proved very valuable.

We record our thanks to the team and to all who contributed to their review.

Action plan

The review findings enabled us to reflect on our delivery and forward thinking, the things we do well, and our opportunities to improve. It helped us to identify actions we wanted to implement over the following year, building also on a range of initiatives we already had in train or in plan.

These action plan themes were designed to tackle things we did less well, as well as build on our strengths, and respond to the input the review generated and the perceptive recommendations from the peer review team.

Our action plan for the following the year included to:

  • Develop our vision statement to articulate more strongly our aspirations for the future of the city.
  • Design and deliver a public and member engagement strategyaround that vision which links to other activities, for example:
    • Preparation for the next Local Plan
    • The Spaces and Movement Supplementary Planning Document, where work is already underway
    • The Greater Cambridge Partnership’s “Big Conversation” on the combination of measures needed to address Cambridge transport and congestion challenges.
  • Use our 2018 Medium Term Financial Strategy process to take a longer term view of our finances and service planning for a growing city, to match the vision we will articulate.
  • Consolidate our existing shared services, deliver the new planning shared service and agree with South Cambridgeshire DC whether there is a future aspiration for further shared services and joint initiatives.
  • Work with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and our partners to explore whether there are further opportunities for public service reform and devolution to improve outcomes for Cambridge residents by focusing on the particular needs of our city, and by contributing to joint projects.
  • Make sure we are clear what parts of our vision we are delivering in partnership with others and which partnerships are most important to us, in addition to direct delivery in and for Cambridge.
  • Make sure we are prioritising those partnerships that deliver the most benefit for Cambridge and beyond and that recognise our city’s core strengths and future opportunities, and put the right resources into them.
  • Consider carefully the future role of our impressive voluntary and community sector and how we can better engage with them and their evolving objectives and contribution into the future.
  • Improve our ICT capability so we make best use for our residents, including those with limited access currently, and deliver the first phase of our digital strategy to improve resident access to services.
  • Develop a staff engagement strategy to explain our vision and involve our valued and impressive team of employees effectively and enthusiastically in planning services for our residents and community for the future.
  • Launch our organisational development strategy and undertake a review of how we best recruit, retain and develop our staff; and how we support our councillors’ contribution in representing residents and making decisions to shape the future of our city and deliver quality services despite the pressures of reduced resources and meeting the needs of an expanding city.
  • Work with our elected member working group on decision making to refine our scrutiny and decision making process so that it remains inclusive and transparent but is also adaptable and efficient.

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