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Praise from Local Government Association for County Council

Published: 24 January 2019

An independent and impartial report by the Local Government Association (LGA) into the running of Derbyshire County Council has found that the organisation is “financially well placed” compared to other councils.

The report, which is set to be considered by the county council’s Cabinet next week (Thursday 31 January 2019), sets out the findings from a ‘Corporate Peer Challenge’ held from 22-25 October 2018.

Eight councillors and officers from the LGA and councils outside Derbyshire were invited in by the county council to speak to staff, service users and partner organisations, to look at the way the council is run and provides services to residents and suggest ways it could improve.

The council specifically asked the team for views about its new Enterprising Council approach, its finances and its One Council approach to departments working together as one team rather than individually.

Enterprising Council is a programme designed to bring down the cost of delivering public services across the county by ensuring that services are delivered in a more innovative and efficient way.

But even though it is taking this new approach, the county council will still face many tough decisions as it seeks to save £63.2 million over the next five years as its contribution to reducing the national deficit.

Positive feedback was also included in the report about how the council has:

  • A good approach to running the council
  • Willingness and ambition to make improvements including through its ‘Enterprising Council’ approach. This new approach focusses on looking for better ways to run the services it provides for Derbyshire residents in order to modernise services and help save money by being more commercially-minded. Cabinet members are being asked to approve a plan for becoming an Enterprising Council at the meeting next week.
  • Positive working relationships between councillors and officers
  • Started to improve the way it works with partner organisations such as district and borough councils and the NHS to deliver joint priorities.
  • A strong commitment to and understanding of Derbyshire as a place.
  • Rapid response to popular concerns such as repairing potholes and scrapping waste disposal charges at recycling centres

The report sets out a number of areas where the council could improve its current approach including:

  • More work on the Enterprising Council and One Council approaches which are at an early stage and developing a clear operating model
  • Review the Council Plan to establish which actions are most important and how and when they will be delivered
  • Develop a more consistent and strategic approach to the council’s budget and financial systems linked to corporate priorities
  • Make sure councillors receive transparent and timely reports on the council’s performance.
  • Further investment to improve the way the council works with partner organisations
  • Raise the profile of health and social care integration
  • Greater awareness of what other councils are doing to improve services

Leader of Derbyshire County Council Councillor Barry Lewis said:

“We asked the LGA to assess our performance, strategy and the way we operate as part of our desire to continually improve what we do. A corporate Peer Challenge has not been carried out for more than a decade and we needed to establish where we were relative to other councils.

“The report concluded that we are on very solid foundations with a good approach to running the council. We are financially very stable with good working relationships and keen to innovate and continually modernise.

“Of course there are areas where we need to improve – as the report highlights – and we welcome this feedback which reflects areas for improvement we had identified ourselves as part of Enterprising Council approach. It’s helpful to confirm these areas that require attention so we can better address them.

“We value this advice and we’ll be looking closely at the recommendations in the report to plan our next steps.”

The report is attached to this page.