STRATFORD-on-Avon District Council invited the Local Government Association Corporate Peer Challenge Team to review the council’s progress since the previous review in 2017.
Over a two day period in February, the Peer Team had conversations with over 40 people across the district council and also spoke with many key partners such as Warwickshire County Council, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, as well as Councillors and parishes.
One of the key messages was that the previous Corporate Peer Review has been taken seriously and that progress has been made implementing the recommendations from the 2017 Corporate Peer Review. There had also been a positive change in how stakeholders viewed the council and relationships with partners were constructive and encouraging.
The feedback letter from the LGA, published on the council’s website this week, also highlighted ‘how the council’s political and managerial leadership is making positive changes to the organisation. The Peer Team also heard many positives about the district from inside and outside of the council.’
The Member Development Training was seen as exemplar and ‘is well planned, evolving and has high take up from councillors’ which ensures members have the appropriate support to lead the council and the district.
The District Council’s Leadership ‘recognises the future financial challenges’ and using the ‘reserves to balance revenue is unsustainable in the longer term’ and there are plans to address this, by using resources in ‘innovative ways and generate sustainable income in the longer term.’
The Peer Team wants to build ‘on the clear strengths of the district’ and ‘encourage the council to focus on where it can add value and where the district makes a difference to the wider West Midlands region through its uniqueness of place. The whole of the district can benefit if Stratford-upon-Avon is flourishing and the Peer Team would encourage the district council to make the most of these opportunities’.
Another area for consideration is ‘as the district grows and changes, new communities will be formed and the council’s role in helping to build a strong, cohesive and welcoming district will increase.’
Finally, ‘following the election, the new district council will want to ensure that it is poised to move at pace in developing the corporate strategy as well as maintaining the momentum of the work already being delivered in some key areas.’