Colchester City Council has welcomed the follow-up report from the Local Government Association (LGA) peer challenge.
The report, which was published on September 5, 2023, found that the council has made significant progress against the recommendations of the original peer challenge, which was conducted in 2022.
The report highlighted the council’s strong leadership, its focus on city status, and its commitment to getting a firmer grip on its capital programme. The report also noted the need for the council to improve its communications plan to explain its financial situation and the difficult decisions that lay ahead.
The report found that the council had made good progress in several areas, including:
- Leadership changes: The council has a new leadership team in place, which is committed to delivering the best for Colchester’s communities.
- Focus on city status: The council is fully embracing the opportunities that city status brings and has established a new City Status Group to drive forward its ambitions.
- Grip of the capital programme: The council has undertaken a comprehensive review of its capital programme and is taking steps to manage the financial challenges it faces.
The report also made further recommendations to support the council’s continuous improvement, including:
- The council should develop a clear internal and external communications plan for its financial situation.
- The council should consult with Members as to how best to progress case work
- The council should develop a ‘partnership directory’ or ‘partnership portal’ so that councillors can directly signpost who can best help residents, to avoid duplication and ensure communities get the best service possible.
Councillor David King, Leader of Colchester City Council, said: “We are delighted that the peer team has recognised the significant progress we have made in recent months.
“We will take up the peer team’s recommendations including that on communications, to ensure that everyone understands our financial situation. We know that this is an important issue for our residents and businesses, and we want to ensure that we continue to be open and transparent about the challenges we face.
“We are also committed to building on the opportunities that city status brings. We will work with our partners to develop a long-term vision for the city and to deliver on our ambitions for regeneration and improvement. We are confident that Colchester has a bright future, and we are committed to doing everything we can to make it a reality.”
Pam Donnelly, the council’s Chief Executive, added: “We are grateful to the peer review team for their constructive feedback and welcome this further external assurance of the council’s work.
“We are particularly pleased that the report has recognised our strong leadership, our focus on city status, and that we are moving in the right direction and focusing on the right things to deliver modern services for a modern city.
“We are dedicated to communicating openly and honestly with our residents and businesses about the very challenging situation we continue to face and are working on developing a clear and concise communications plan for our financial situation.
“We are determined to continue to improve and change, and we will be working hard to implement the remaining recommendations of the report over the coming months.”