The council invited a Local Government Association peer challenge team to the council in November 2022.
The small team of experienced senior officers and councillors from other councils came to Basingstoke to see how the council works, how it is planning for the future and how it is preparing to meet the challenges ahead.
There is considerable change in local government and most local authorities are trying to work out how best to respond. The aim of peer challenge is to help councils to assess their current achievements and to identify those areas in which they are doing well and those where they could improve.
The review was followed by a feedback report outlining the findings. This called Basingstoke and Deane an “ambitious council, with a legacy of strong financial management” and “providing good quality services for its residents”.
The report was very positive saying:
“BDBC has experienced recent political and managerial change. The current Leader took on the position in February 2022, having previously served as the Deputy Leader. The council also has a relatively new Chief Executive, who joined in January 2021. The peer team heard the positive impact both have had on the organisation, hearing frequently remarks about how visible and approachable they both are.
“It was clear during the Corporate Peer Challenge (CPC) that BDBC is a driven council that has a strong desire for achievement and delivery, with passionate officers, members and partners. The talent and commitment to BDBC by officers in particular was notable, which is something that is recognised by members: "the staff are amazing here".
“The financial position of the authority is commendably stable and solid. Finances are effectively managed, and the importance of sound financial management is recognised throughout the organisation. The strong base the financial position affords the council provides it with the ability to invest in priority areas.
“Key local partners enjoy working with BDBC, and they value the importance the council places on effective partnership working. The council has many compelling stories to tell about what it has achieved in partnership and it should ensure it celebrates this both internally and externally.”
The team made some useful recommendations for how the council could further improve its effectiveness and focus on achieving the things that will make the most difference to our area.
These form the basis of an action plan to strengthen the council to deliver its ambitious plans.
An action plan to respond to the recommendations was approved by Cabinet on Tuesday 7 February 2023.
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