An independent report praises Stafford Borough Council for making significant progress despite the ‘huge’ challenges of Covid-19.
The recent report was a follow up to a previous review by a Local Government Association team which took place in 2018 and praised the borough council for the way the organisation was run - with stand-out comments including the local authority being an “exemplar” in the way it worked with partners and a “well financially managed organisation.”
The council invited the team back to review what has happened over the last three years and this time they said they were “particularly impressed” by how the council had dealt with the huge challenges of the pandemic.
The team included a councillor and senior officers from other similar authorities and their latest report says the council was still on track to deliver ambitious plans.
It said: “The challenges facing local government during the course of the pandemic should not be underestimated, and Stafford’s resilience has been demonstrated through its continued economic growth agenda, the commitment of its staff and leadership as well as its position as an influential partner in the region and beyond.”
The review gave examples of how the council had “stepped up to the plate” during the national lockdown periods:
- A community hub was set up during the pandemic and enabled staff, across many services, and elected members to work together to support vulnerable residents
- The successful delivery of millions of pounds of grants to businesses involved a range of employees working collaboratively across both Stafford and Cannock councils
- And, for example, the elections team were redeployed to cover areas where there were shortages or increased workload due to the pandemic
The report added: “Stafford Borough Council employees undoubtedly demonstrated flexibility and willingness to support each other and the council’s services during a busy and challenging time for local government.”
But it did say the local authority was still not doing enough to sing its own praises and should look for more opportunities to “publicise its numerable successes.”
Council leader, Patrick Farrington, said: “We wanted to open ourselves up to scrutiny by an outside, independent, team again so they could examine our priorities and make a judgement on whether we were heading in the right direction.
“I am pleased this report recognises that while providing vital financial and practical support to our community during an incredibly challenging couple of years - we are still on track to deliver our ambition of a prosperous borough where people want to live, work and visit.”
The report was discussed by the council’s Cabinet on Thursday (5 May) and can be found at 21/22 Committee Meetings | Stafford Borough Council (staffordbc.gov.uk) It also includes recommendations to help the borough council realise its ambitions.
Councillor Farrington continued: “You don’t often expect to be criticised for not shouting loud enough about being successful, but that is something we will take on board and in future we must make sure we share our achievements more widely with residents, partners and beyond.”
The council is putting together an action plan which will say how it proposes to address recommendations in the review.
Councillor Farrington added: “We have just over 200 employees at the council and every one of them has a role to play to ensure we continue to achieve what we have set out in our Corporate Business Plan - and that way we can ensure we have a borough that our residents and businesses can be proud of.”
Press Release No 5889