Plenty to be proud of says peer review

Somerset County Council today welcomes a report into its strengths and areas for improvement following a review by the Local Government Association.

The areas praised in the in the LGA Peer Review, which took place at the Council’s request, include the Council’s track record of resolving financial challenges – saving £100m over five years – its efforts to engage and consult with the public, and the role it plays in the Local Enterprise Partnership.

Councillor John Osman, Leader of the Council, said: “It’s always useful to have an outsider’s perspective, especially when it comes from our peers who are facing the same challenges and opportunities that we are.

“There are some real, fundamental positives in the report – about our staff, the way this authority works, and the role we play in bringing investment into the county – which I’m obviously delighted to see. But the areas for improvement are just as important and we will look at those and do our very best to address them.”

The ‘things to be proud of’ highlighted in the report include:
• Staff who are positive, resilient and focussed on delivering for local people
• The Council’s key role in the Growth Deal to enhance the benefits from Hinkley Point
• The Smart Office programme to modernise offices at County Hall and beyond
• Sound governance and positive leadership from the Chief Executive and Leader
• A willingness to invest in its people and recognise achievement

The report also highlights challenges and areas where the authority should look to improve, such as children’s services, more clarity in its priorities and the need for better engagement with elected councillors.

These ‘things for the Council to take forward’ also include:
• Making the County Plan more tangible
• Closer working with partners on a more strategic/holistic approach to budget challenges
• Making its Change Programme more focussed

The full Corporate Peer Challenge review is due to be published on the Council’s website before the end of the month and be considered by its Scrutiny and Cabinet committees.

The reviewers from the Local Government Association visited the Council in October last year.