Calderdale Council has received a glowing report from local government experts who undertook a four day corporate peer challenge at the local authority in February 2023.
The Local Government Association team of experienced officers and Councillors interviewed Elected Members, senior officers, partners and residents between 21 and 24 February 2023.
The Peer Challenge team focussed on themes including local priorities and outcomes, organisational and place leadership, governance and culture, financial planning and management and capacity for improvement.
The Council is now publishing the report following the local elections and can advise that the Peer Challenge team found that the Council:
- has a passionate and committed workforce who really like working at the Council and feel they can make a difference, with purposeful and resilient leadership exemplified by its response to the pandemic, the cost of living crisis, and its lead role in tackling the impact of climate change.
- has made some very wise choices through the period of austerity from which Calderdale is now reaping the benefits. This is particularly true of some of bold investment decisions in relation to local assets such as Piece Hall, children’s services, and the public realm. This success creates a platform for greater boldness and confidence in what could happen next for Calderdale, particularly in harnessing the potential of its outstanding culture and heritage offer.
- is in a good position to build beyond 2024 due to its history of the recognised and collaborative relationships, which have been cultivated across Calderdale. This is particularly evident between members and officers.
- Is in a sound place financially and can now benefit from further budget review to support whole Council transformation.
- is effective in ensuring all voices are heard and has the potential to build on strong relationships with the Voluntary and Community Sector through a new VCS Strategy
- is a valued contributor of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), with a strong convening role, and has achieved some notable success in securing significant investment for Calderdale communities and provides calm and collaborative leadership of the West Yorkshire Integrated Care System (ICS).
The Council has developed a six point action plan to deliver the recommendations in the report.
Cllr Jane Scullion, Leader of Calderdale Council said:
“The Peer Challenge report reflects the extraordinary achievements of the last few years, despite the difficulties which we have faced after years of austerity and the pandemic. There is so much that we can be proud of here in Calderdale.
“Whilst it’s fantastic to receive such feedback we cannot rest on our laurels, we’re ambitious for Calderdale and we are ready to step up a gear.
“Our action plan clearly outlines how we will transform into a Council for the future. We will deliver the Local Plan; take action to address the challenges of climate change; strengthen our relationships with WYCA and the voluntary sector; capitalise on the potential we have in our creative sector through our Year of Culture and invest in our officers to show how much we value them.”
The Peer Challenge team will return in six months to measure the Council’s progress against delivery of the plan.
Robin Tuddenham, Chief Executive of Calderdale Council said:
“The Corporate Peer Challenge was a rigorous and timely examination of our work as a Council and in place. It’s really heartening and affirming to see recognition from the team, our staff, and partners of the impact of major decisions in recent years, and the role of our Vision 2024 during a challenging time for the sector.
“We now need to scale up our ambition as we head towards 2024, capitalise on the unique opportunity our culture and heritage profile offers, and deliver on our internal transformation to prepare for the future. Our strong, mutually respectful relationships between Councillors, officers and our partners, and the recognition that core services are running well, provide the basis for optimism that we can deliver.”
The Council’s last Peer Challenge was in June 2015.
The Corporate Peer Challenge and the action plan can be viewed on the Council’s website: calderdale.gov.uk/cpc23 from Wednesday 31 May 2023.