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'Good council' ready to tackle challenges and support communities

Published: Friday, 10 May, 2019

Stroud District Council has the potential to be one of the best in the country - that’s one of the main findings of a report by the Local Government Association.

The council invited an LGA Corporate Peer Challenge team to Ebley Mill to scrutinise what it does well and what needs to be improved, and the findings of the team’s report will be considered by the whole council on Thursday, May 16.

The five-strong team of senior officers and politicians from councils across the country, and LGA staff found that SDC is a ‘good council, providing good services, in a distinctive place that staff are proud to be part of’ – they were particularly impressed by the council’s waste and recycling service which Defra rates as the best in the south west.

And they said that ‘the council has the potential to be an exemplar leader of place’,  noting that members, senior officers and staff are passionate about the district and want to actively shape how the council best operates to serve its residents.

The team found evidence of good partnership working, a political alliance of three parties which works well, staff supporting the Chief Executive to improve the council, and a groundswell of goodwill from external partners.

SDC Chief Executive Kathy O’Leary said:

"I welcome this report, and will now work on setting out an action plan based on its recommendations. The report mentions the leadership’s intent on making a tangible difference to support local communities, and the drive and energy that is put into that. I aim to ensure that the council is organised to achieve the leadership’s ambitions for Stroud, which are well understood by partners and with whom we look forward to working more closely."    

SDC last undertook a Corporate Peer Challenge four years ago. Ms O’Leary started as SDC Chief Executive in November 2018 and she and council leaders felt that a review would help tackle current and future challenges facing the council.

The team also found that the council is in a relatively strong financial position but there is a need to plan to achieve financial sustainability in the medium to long term, governance requires better collaboration at an early stage, and that to enable change

Ms O’Leary needs support to strengthen senior management capacity.

The review took place between March 26 and 29 and considered five core components – understanding of local place and priorities, leadership of place, organisational leadership and governance, financial planning and viability, and capacity to deliver.

The council is being asked to resolve to note the report on Thursday. An action plan will be considered by Strategy and Resources Committee at a later date.

The report is available to view at https://www.stroud.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/meetings/council/council-16-may-2019

Members of the public are welcome to attend and watch the meeting, or watch it online at http://c.connectedviews.com/03/sdc

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