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Action plan to improve the council

Published Thursday 19 October, 2023
Last updated on Thursday 19 October, 2023

Swale Borough Council (SBC) has agreed on a plan to improve how the organisation works.

Earlier this year, the council invited the Local Government Association (LGA) to visit Swale to conduct a Corporate Peer Challenge.

This saw senior officers and Councillors from similar councils across the country visiting the borough to review how the council was performing, identifying areas where they were functioning well and areas where improvements could be made.

Following the visit, the LGA published a report of its findings, which praised much of the work being done to support the local community, but also identified key areas where improvements could be made.

The peer review offered recommendations that were integral in shaping the action plan, which will focus on addressing their observations.

Some of the recommendations included:

  • Creating a new corporate plan – build an understanding of what the council aims to achieve
  • Develop joint values – create a culture of trust and respect within the council
  • Create a savings plan – ensuring a balanced budget and a robust financial plan
  • Member/officer relations – promote mutual understanding and collaboration between members and officers
  • Review committee structure – enabling scrutiny of the way the committees operate
  • Communications and engagement strategy – effectively share information to the public, members and staff
  • Impact of the 34-hour week – assess the risks and benefits of the new structure

Last night (Wednesday 18 October), the council’s policy and resources committee agreed an action plan that sets out measures to address the peer reviews recommendations. This includes:

  • finalising a new corporate plan, with the input of staff and members, that will outline their strategic priorities and how they can be achieved within the agreed budget
  • members and officers developing joint values that, once agreed, will be embedded into the organisation through regular training
  • clearly communicate the budget position to staff and members and continue developing measures to ensure there is a balanced budget that allows for savings in the short term and the ensuing years.
  • continue work to foster an environment of collaboration and mutual understanding between members and officers.
  • the leader of the council will review the committee system and the council will develop an annual scrutiny programme.
  • finalise the communications strategy alongside the new Corporate Plan and offer training to officers and members to create effective content
  • Continuing to monitor and evaluate the 34-hour working week

Cllr Tim Gibson, the leader of the council, said:

“Despite the challenges we face, in a post covid world and the ongoing cost of living crisis, our dedicated officers and members are working incredibly hard to serve the community we love.

“We are always looking to improve, so we welcome this peer review, and thank them for their well thought out recommendations.

“We were already working towards addressing many of the recommendations, such as creating a new corporate plan and developing a detailed communications strategy.

“We remain committed to improving the way we operate and are abundantly aware that some of the areas identified will be longer term achievements. However, ultimately our aspiration remains to provide excellence in service to the community.

“This action plan outlines how we will do it.”

You can read the full action plan here:

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