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Stratford-on-Avon District Council's Peer Challenge Review

Released on 16 May 2017 Press Release

Stratford News

Stratford-on-Avon District Council 'is well-run and has a clear understanding of its place, strong finances and high customer satisfaction with service delivery across the district'.  This is one of the key findings in an independent report released today, Tuesday 16 May, which explores the wide range of opportunities and significant challenges the council faces.

The Corporate Peer Challenge report highlights positive findings and offers recommendations on how the council can move forward and help shape the future of the local authority.

Cllr Chris Saint, Leader of Stratford-on-Avon District Council says: "I am delighted that the Peer Team found so many positive attributes so much that is right in the Council, particularly with the challenges we face along with other local authorities.  It's important to seek independent external challenge as this helps us to clarify what we are doing right, what we need to change and what we should focus our attention on. 

"The peer review establishes a clear baseline for us to lead improvement across the Council.  We welcome the report and will work hard to deliver improvements that benefit the whole district. It was pleasing to hear support from stakeholders in wanting us to succeed and that staff feel valued and engaged. This is an excellent position from which we can move forward."

The Peer Challenge 'identified no major problems and generally everything seemed satisfactory', but 'could achieve much more by taking a more ambitious longer term and more strategic approach'. Engagement with partnerships is improving and should be 'built upon'.  They 'found strong political and managerial leadership in place'.  The team recognised that 'new skills and ways of working are need in a more complex environment'

The Council 'is in a very strong position to transform the way it operates' due to its 'strong financial position' - 'if used well they could bring in the skills and capacity needed to support transformation and to drive future income'.  The team would 'encourage the council to have ambition and necessary pace' and 'make the most of this opportunity'.

The Peer Challenge Team concludes that there are 'many positive things happening within the council'.

The team recognised the challenges the Council faces and made recommendations to help the organisation provide better services for residents, businesses and visitors to the district. The District Council will now use this positive feedback to help improve services for local residents.

The review team spent three days in March 2017 meeting staff, councillors, businesses and many other local organisations and public sector bodies, speaking to more than 90 people to understand the current position.  Collectively the review team spent more than 175 hours to determine their findings - the equivalent of one person spending nearly 5 weeks at the District Council.

The Corporate Peer Challenge included on-site interviews, attending meetings and holding focus groups as well as additional research and reading to determine their findings and focused on *five areas that are critical to the council's performance and improvement.

The final report and further feedback will be presented to stakeholders at an event on Monday 12 June at the District Council offices.

Background information

Stratford District Council asked for a peer review from the Local Government Association (LGA) involving leading councillors and senior officers from other councils across the country to help further improve the Council's work. Peer challenges are provided by the LGA at no cost as part of their improvement programme. The process is designed to be forward-looking and problem-solving. It is not a form of inspection and does not rank or score the council.

The team that visited the District Council was:

* Antoinette Jackson - Chief Executive, Cambridge City Council

* Cllr Tony Jackson, Executive Member, East Hertfordshire District Council

* Stephen Hill, Strategic Director, Dorset Councils Partnership

* Joanne Wagstaffe, Director of Finance, Watford BC and Three Rivers DC

* Peter Rentell - LGA Peer Challenge Manager

* Patrick Ransom - LGA National Graduate, Westminster City Council


*The five areas focused on are as follows:

  • Understanding of the local place and priority setting
  • Leadership of Place
  • Organisational leadership and governance
  • Financial planning and viability
  • Capacity to deliver


Contact details

For further details contact
Stratford-on-Avon District Council
Elizabeth House,
Church Street,
CV37 6HX

Tel: 01789 267575

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