External assessment says NKDC is a ‘strong, stable, well-run and responsive’

An external review of North Kesteven District Council has found it to be well-run, committed to delivering services how residents want them, strong, stable and effective in shaping a great place to live, work and visit.

These are the overarching findings of a Corporate Peer Challenge undertaken by leaders and senior officers of other councils at the invitation of North Kesteven’s leadership, as an opportunity to critique and challenge.

In November 2021 a group of six experienced councillors and chief officers from borough, city and unitary authorities elsewhere, brought together by the Local Government Association, spent four days at NKDC, meeting with 111 people from the Chief Executive, the Leader and half the councillors to colleagues across the organisation, customers, businesses, and partners who work with us.

Mainly focused on looking at the five themes of governance and culture, organisational and place leadership, local priorities and outcomes, financial panning and management and capacity for improvement, they left with a glowing impression and gave a summary of their findings.

These included assessments that we:

  • Are a ‘strong, financially secure, stable Council’
  • Have ‘excellent ambitions for tackling climate change’
  • Have ‘a positive, collegiate and supporting working environment’
  • Provide ‘good place leadership across the District, county and region’
  • Are well-run by a ‘strong, competent team’
  • Are ‘committed to ‘delivering services how residents want them’
  • Have ‘robust and well-established governance arrangements’
  • Have a ‘positive, collective, inclusive approach to decision-making’
  • Have a ‘strong, competent Senior Management Team which understands the strategic direction the Council needs and is taking’
  • Inform all our actions through a ‘strong suite’ of plans and strategies which ‘like a completed jigsaw’ have all the pieces in place, to achieve aims and aspirations and move forward ‘with momentum.’

They also gave suggestions of how they thought we could do things even better. These include:

  • Expanding our engagement with the under 30s;
  • Using the information we get through consultations more fully;
  • Making changes that would draw in more councillors, representative of the demographic spread of the District such as looking at meeting times;
  • Reviewing the number of Members on the planning committee; and
  • Setting out in more detail how we aspire to reach our carbon-net-zero target by 2030.

At their meeting on January 27, North Kesteven’s district councillors reviewed the Corporate Peer Challenge feedback and identified action plan to move forward on such opportunities. The full report, a summary overview and schedule of proposed actions can be found at www.n-kesteven.gov.uk/CPC2021

Council Leader Cllr Richard Wright said: “The Corporate Peer Challenge has been a positive exercise: an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the organisation, and explore opportunities for learning, development and continuous improvement.

“We are delighted with the report and its positive conclusions regarding the ambition, leadership, and track record of North Kesteven.

“The report also highlights the positive role that the Council plays as a place leader, as a partner and as an employer. Most particularly, it includes many comments about the excellence of our teams and the difference they make through the services and projects they deliver, as an organisation and through partnership.

“The feedback is based on the observations of six critical friends from other councils and in the lived experience of our own peers, colleagues and associates. It is greatly appreciated and very instructive.

“The Peer Challenge Team met with a lot of people, probed, challenged and asked searching questions. They learned a lot about us and so did we, in helping us to shape the future of our priorities, our services and our plans for investment and in developing further excellence in the way we serve and respond to our communities.”

A formal review of progress against the action plan will be made by the LGA Peer Team this summer.

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