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Members asked to extend the council's partnership with its Improvement Panel

29 November 2023

Councillors will be asked to approve a year’s extension to the life of the council’s Independent Improvement and Assurance Panel so that it can continue to play a key role in the transformation of the local authority.

The panel was set up voluntarily by the council in December 2021 to provide external advice, challenge and expertise in driving forward the development and delivery of its Improvement Plan. It also provides feedback and assurance to Full Council and the Secretary of State on the progress being made by the council.

The independent panel, led by well-respected former chief executive Eleanor Kelly, has offered a wide range of senior level experience and skills from across the sector and has played a significant role in the improvements seen in the past two years.

In particular, expertise and guidance has been provided to support the council in its drive to achieve financial sustainability and to improve the governance and culture of the organisation.

Councillors will now be asked to extend the involvement of the panel until December 2024, to support the council on its continued improvement journey.

At the same meeting, taking place next week (Wednesday 6 December), councillors will also be asked to consider the latest report from the Improvement Panel, the fourth to be received.

In the report, panel members highlight the commendable efforts made by officers and members and the progress undertaken over the past two years. It cites continued ambition and commitment, and improvements in the governance and financial management of the council.

However, the panel warns that the challenges are still immense. Continued focus is needed on the council’s finances, to weather the challenges being faced by many councils, and on the transformation of services which will be key to achieving financial sustainability.

They also cited the recent political changes and called for collaboration from all parties in the interests of those communities which members all serve.

Matthew Gladstone, Chief Executive of Peterborough City Council, said: “What we have achieved in the past two years should not be underestimated and I am pleased that our Improvement Panel has commended officers and members once again for our progress, ambition and commitment. Officers and members continue to dedicate themselves to meeting the aims set out in our Corporate Strategy and making Peterborough a city of opportunity for all.

“Nobody can deny that challenges remain and in the coming year we will have a relentless focus on our finances and the transformation of services, so that we can meet the needs of residents with the budget we have available long-term.

“This will not be an easy challenge and so it will be a huge benefit for the organisation to embark on that work with the support of our Improvement Panel, and the wealth of experience it affords us.”

Councillor Mohammed Farooq, Leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “I would like to thank our Improvement Panel for the time and commitment they have dedicated to Peterborough in the past two years. The advice and challenge that they provide is invaluable and having their services for a further year will support us in meeting our challenges.

“The panel’s latest report sets out very clearly for me where we need to focus our efforts and through conversations with our Chief Executive and senior leadership team I am confident that we are making progress in each of the areas highlighted.

“There has never been a greater need for members and officers to pull together in the same direction and that is what I and my administration are striving for. I will be working closely with colleagues on all sides of the council chamber in the best interests of the communities that we represent.”