Decisive action and good progress of Council's Transformation praised in review

The "decisive action and good progress" being taken by South Somerset District Council to protect services has been highlighted in a report assessing the Council and its Transformation programme.

The Council is undertaking a huge change designed to protect our services and put our residents, businesses and partners at the heart of how we work and deliver. It is about building the Council of the future that is able to deliver better services and outcomes for South Somerset in the context of significantly less funding. You can learn more about Transformation here.

Transformation - why change?

South Somerset District Council invited a team of peers to offer their views on the Council including the work being undertaken and make recommendations, following up on a similar visit which took place in March 2017.

The Peer Team was led by  Colin Carmichael, Chief Executive, Canterbury City Council  and included a number of officers and Members from other councils, such as  Councillor Peter Fleming, Leader of Sevenoaks District Council.  Their full report can be seen here.

The Peer Team found that:

"The Council has taken decisive action and made good progress on the first stages of its internal Transformation programme - although it recognises it still has much work ahead of it to complete its desired transformation. It has been successful in maintaining overall performance and staff morale during this difficult period."

"The peer team found the enthusiasm and commitment of staff to be truly remarkable given the level of change occurring and as high as any seen in most authorities."

"It was noticeable that staff felt there had been a real change in management culture in most areas during the last two years and that support and openness had improved significantly."

"The Council's finances are managed prudently and with good self-awareness of the financial position. The result of its good financial management (and the effects of Transformation and commercialisation programmes) is that the Council has a short-term revenue financial position which is relatively positive compared to many other councils."

"Its commercialisation strategy is progressing with a good property investment approach although, outside of Commercial Services which have approved business plans, it is still in the early stage of implementation across most service areas and needs greater prioritisation."

"The good progress that has been made in Transformation and financial management is also allowing the Council to give greater emphasis to its desired economic and community regeneration activities."

The report concludes with a number of recommendations to support the council in continuing to progress.

The Council will now be reflecting on the findings of the Peer Review, to determine how to take the recommendations forward.

South Somerset District Council Leader Val Keitch said: "It is a privilege to be the Leader of this council; a council that has taken hard, bold and innovative decisions to protect our services by delivering them in a different way at a time of significantly reduced Government funding

"We are still on a journey and there will be tough times ahead but I know we will achieve our aims thanks to our extraordinary staff and continued strong leadership."

Chief Executive Alex Parmley said: "The Peer Review is an incredibly useful test of our progress in delivering the priorities of the council, transforming what we do and delivering on the recommendations they gave us in 2017.

"They have provided a positive and accurate reflection of the progress we have made alongside an honest assessment of what more we still need to do. The comments regarding our remarkable staff are fully justified and, while we acknowledge that there is still a lot of hard work to be done, our fantastic officers at every level are truly committed to achieving the best results for our residents, businesses and partners."