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Review recognises Council's good performance

West Berkshire Council has received the results of a peer review.

Posted by: Communications team on 16 May 2024 09:04
Categories: May 2024
Market Street offices

A peer review is when representatives from councils nationwide spend a week with another council to evaluate their performance, assess their ambition for residents, and determine if adequate resources are in place to fulfil those objectives. It aims to draw attention to areas of strength and identify areas for improvement.

The review was requested by the Council as part of its ongoing commitment to delivering high quality, efficient and effective services for residents. It was conducted by the Local Government Association over four days in February and involved eight officers and councillors from across the country.

Councils are encouraged to undergo a review, known as a 'Corporate Peer Challenge', every five years. Among its findings were that:

  • There is a noticeably changed approach to ways of working brought by the new administration, that are "more inclusive," "more open," and "more visible."
  • We're quickly creating a bold Council Strategy that reflects the new administration's priorities.
  • Collaboration between partners is bringing real benefits to the people of West Berkshire, with more potential to achieve.
  • We're improving our scrutiny function to be more constructive and valuable.
  • Our members, staff, and partners are enthusiastic and committed to making a positive impact on the district.
  • We need to address overspending in children's and adult services and start building reserves with a clear plan that everyone in the organisation supports.
  • We must ensure progress on the Delivering Better Value SEND programme and tackle the High Needs Block Deficit.
  • We need to make sure that legal, HR, communications, and transformation staff are involved in policy development and delivery from the start.
  • We should strengthen positive relationships between the council and partners, including suppliers, and create opportunities to support wider objectives like apprenticeships and social value.
  • We need to build back our depleted reserves and develop a clear plan that has buy-in from the whole organisation.

The peer review team reached its conclusions after speaking to staff, Councillors and external partners through interviews and focus groups - conducting 42 meetings and focus groups and speaking to more than 140 people.

Grateful for the feedback, Councillor Jeff Brooks, Leader of West Berkshire Council said:

"It's great to hear the panel's feedback, affirming that we're a well-performing Council. The report highlights our effective service delivery, strong leadership, and positive partnerships with our agencies. While it points out areas for improvement, it's reassuring to know that we're already excelling in the many areas.

"The peer team found that clear progress had been made acting on the recommendations made in 2019 and we remain committed to doing the same now. An action plan is being developed to ensure we know how we will deliver on these in the months ahead.

"Thank you to everyone who participated in the review for their valuable and honest perspectives on the Council."

You can read the Corporate Peer Challenge Feedback Report online. A follow-up visit by the review team will be arranged in the next couple of years to help the Council assess its response to the review and recommendations made.

Last modified: 20 May 2024 11:30

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