The Council invited the Local Government Association (LGA) to carry out the challenge earlier this year, in July 2023. The purpose of this exercise is to identify new areas for improvement including endorsing improvements the council is already working on.
The report recognised that the new administration has a clear set of ambitions and has positively engaged staff in the development of a new ‘Short-Term’ plan to complement existing strategies.
The report also commended the council’s commitment to continuous improvement, together with the positive relationships between councillors and officers, strong working relationships with partners and the commitment of staff.
The report includes a number of observations and suggestions and sets out nine key recommendations to the council for further development; many of which were already being implemented at the time of the challenge:
- Develop a financially sustainable budget.
- Complete a review of governance and develop an action plan encompassing risk management, project management and procurement.
- Develop a future engagement plan with partners.
- Enhance the role of Scrutiny.
- Create a continuous member development plan.
- Ensure Climate Net-Zero is integrated into the council’s culture and appropriately resourced.
- Develop an Equalities Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) training plan.
- Make improvements to the working environment at Surrey Heath House.
- Develop a digital vision that reflects engagement with staff and residents.
Surrey Heath Borough Council Leader Councillor Shaun Macdonald said;
“The Local Government Association peer team were invited as an important part of our commitment to continuous improvement.
“The process was very comprehensive with a team of peers speaking to over 75 staff, partners and councillors.
“I’m very pleased the report recognises the many successes achieved so far on our journey, and the extremely positive culture, leadership and commitment and pride of staff.
“I’m also glad that the LGA recognised the importance of the council working towards delivering a balanced budget.
“We are already working on the areas of recommendation and will publish an action plan by December.”
Surrey Heath Borough Council thanks the LGA peer team for their professional and thorough approach and are looking forward to welcoming peers back in April to demonstrate further progress made.
Read the full report on the corporate peer challenge webpage.