Local Government Association Panel carries out a peer review of Colchester Borough Council



The Local Government Association (LGA) recently carried-out a wide-ranging peer review of Colchester Borough Council by an expert panel of Councillors and Senior Officers drawn from similar sized Councils from: Torbay; Watford; Malvern Hills; Scarborough; Hastings; and New Forest District Councils.

While much good practice was noted at Colchester, the LGA Panel was critical of some aspects of the Lib-Dem and Labour controlled Council, and recommended:

  1. CBC needs to reset and realign its organisation to reflect resource pressures and significant changes in working arrangements to support residents effectively, as Colchester’s communities grow.
  2. CBC quickly needs to come together to discuss and agree what City Status means for Colchester
  3. Get a grip on the Capital Programme
  4. As a matter of urgency, implement changes to improve planning, prioritisation, management, oversight and delivery of all capital projects and programmes.  Consider implementing a benefits realisation approach to monitor the outcomes that projects and programmes deliver
  5. CBC has too many priorities and needs to urgently get a grip on this.
  6. Develop a strategy to link and prioritise projects and programmes, ensuring a direct link with a new strategic plan – be clear on which partner is leading to avoid duplication
  7. Develop a new 4/5 year strategic plan, engage members, officers, and stakeholders in its development
  8. Create an annual delivery plan, that includes projects and programmes
  9. Resources and capacity are stretched – refocus on delivering services
  10. Review your Waste Service
  11. Be more proactive in dealing with equality and diversity issues
  12. Lack of clarity amongst staff of the new values, and what hybrid working will mean when Rowan House (the Council’s Offices) reopens. Define what hybrid means for CBC and provide a clear definition and communication of where the council aims to be.  It could explore a range of options
  13. Colchester is not alone with its recruitment and retention challenges. Shared services discussions with other Essex councils should be pursued, and the agenda around devolution could be used as a route to look more strategically at the issues.

Councillor Darius Laws, Leader of the Conservative Group and the official opposition, said: We welcome the impartial review of performance by an expert panel from outside of Colchester. The experts found much good practice but raised some areas which need attention: cutting the cost of politics by reviewing our election system, opportunities posed by City Status, reviewing the waste service and the capital programme was identified as needing urgent attention.

The Conservative Group expects that these sensible recommendations are implemented as a matter of urgency, so that Colchester is as well managed, and taxpayers get the same quality of service and value for money as other Councils of a similar size.”