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Council shortlisted in Most Improved Council category at LGC Awards 2023

20 February 2023

Rapid progress towards achieving financial sustainability and the aims of its Improvement Plan has secured Peterborough City Council a place in the bidding for the title of Most Improved Council at this year’s Local Government Chronicle (LGC) Awards.

The prestigious annual awards, which honour local authorities and individuals from across the UK, have shortlisted the city council in the category of Most Improved Council.

The award recognises the improvement journey of councils that have previously struggled. It considers the leadership skills required to turn around a council's performance, pays tribute to the leaders and broader teams, and recognises that a council has 'bounced back'.

In its entry, the city council cited the breadth of the improvements which have been made since December 2021 when the Independent Improvement and Assurance Panel was voluntarily set up by the council. At the same time, members signed off an Improvement Plan which sought to achieve financial sustainability and transformation in services, governance and culture.

Since that time, the council has made big strides forward and in their latest report, Improvement Panel members – all of whom are leading local government experts - concluded that the council had made significant progress towards its aims.

Highlighted was a stronger grip on finances, improved member engagement and staff culture, stronger political leadership, improved governance and the beginnings of a programme of transformation across all council services.

The entry also mentioned the city’s ambitious growth agenda and the government investment the council has secured to create a City of Opportunity for all.

Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald, Leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “The past year has involved much hard work from everyone at the council – members and staff at every level – so to be shortlisted for this national local government award is testimony to the dedication, commitment and hard work that's been delivered by our staff, councillors, and partners.

“We have come such a long way in the space of 12 months, and despite unprecedented circumstances including a very challenging economic climate, we have seen progress in every single area that we set out to improve. Not only that, but we have also seen progress in so many areas - our university opened in September and work is about to begin on phase 3 and we have just secured £48m to regenerate our Station Quarter, for example.

“We know that we still have some way to go to fully deliver the aims of our Improvement Plan and Corporate Strategy to make Peterborough the best place it can be for those who live and work here and as a visitor destination, but this shortlisting demonstrates that the improvement we have made is worthy of national recognition.”

In its entry, the city council cites key achievements from the past year. These included:

  • Setting a balanced budget without the need for a capitalisation direction in 2022/23, which included an in-year savings target of £16.7million - all but £500,000 has so far been achieved.

  • Presenting plans for a balanced budget in 2023/24 to Full Council on Wednesday (22 February).

  • Much better member engagement in this year’s budget setting process, with our very successful Financial Sustainability Working Group (FSWG) made up of cross-party members.

  • The development of a transformation programme which will change the way the council operates and delivers services.

  • Publishing a new Corporate Strategy and City Priorities document, setting out how we will deliver long-term improvements and meet the changing needs of resident and deliver on our priorities.

  • Reviewing all our contracts to make sure they’re providing the services residents need for the best possible price. As a result, the procurement and property services have moved back in house as well as Opportunity Peterborough.

  • Looked at all our assets and considered whether they are being used efficiently and effectively, only keeping those we can afford, whilst at the same time developing a commercial strategy.

  • Bolstering our Audit Committee with the appointment of independent members.

Matt Gladstone, Chief Executive, said: “The council I now lead is completely different to the one I joined a year ago and with the support of our Improvement Panel we have achieved a huge amount. We have transformed, or have begun to transform, in every area which is showing benefits for our residents and the whole city.

“Our fantastic staff have really stepped up to the challenge and deserve a huge amount of credit for the council being shortlisted for this award. They have adapted to the changes and embraced new ways of working across the organisation and with partners.

“As a result, we've improved everything from culture and governance to our financial health and we have a clear view of our priorities and how we will achieve them to deliver the best possible outcomes for our residents.”

The city council will find out in June if it has been successful in winning the award.