Corporate Peer Challenge
A Corporate Peer Challenge (CPC) is conducted by the Local Government Association (LGA) and is intended to provide robust challenge and support to councils. A CPC will generally cover five core elements:-
- Local priorities and outcomes
- Organisational and place leadership
- Governance and culture
- Financial planning and management, and
- Capacity for improvement
The team conducting a CPC is made up of officers and councillors from the LGA and from other councils and they will conduct the CPC by visiting the council, interviewing staff and councillors, speaking with partners and viewing committees etc.
North Devon’s CPC
Late in 2019, North Devon Council invited the LGA to carry out a CPC. This followed elections in May 2019 and also the appointment of a new Chief Executive in July 2019.
The team arrived to carry out the CPC in October 2019 and consisted of:-
- Stephen Baker – Chief Executive East Suffolk Council
- Councillor Anita Baker - Leader of Opposition Newcastle City Council
- John Richardson - Strategic Director Blaby District Council
- Verna Connolly - Executive Manager Hastings Borough Council
- Robert Hatherway - LGA Peer Challenge Manager
After carrying out their physical visit, a draft report was issued in February 2020. Under normal circumstances, the draft report would have been considered by the Full Council meeting and a response issued before receiving a final version. In March 2020, the country went into national lockdown and so formal consideration of the report did not take place which meant that a final report was never issued by the LGA.
In 2021, the CPC was revisited and it was felt that rather than simply considering and publishing the report issued in February 2020, the LGA would be asked to carry out a further CPC update so that the outcomes were more relevant. The LGA carried out a physical and virtual visit in September/October 2021 which resulted in a draft report being provided in December 2021. The Full Council meeting on 12th January 2022 received both the draft report from February 2020 and the refreshed report from 2021.
Both reports are very positive and accurately reflect the work and approach of the council. The reports praised the council’s financial planning and also the approach of staff, highlighting the strong public service ethos and the pride in working for the council that exists.
The 2021 report also highlights how staff value the collaborative approach being adopted by the council and the opportunity to be involved in developing the council’s Behaviour Framework. It also noted that many of the key recommendations from the first report had been addressed even though there was an obviously challenging environment.
In summary the recommendations from the 2020 report were:-
- Work with partners on a 2050 Vision for the area
- Continually evolve the corporate plan
- Invest in capacity to delivery change programmes
- Review strategic management and the organisational structure to add capacity
- Accelerate plans to deliver the commercialisation strategy
- Ensure the roles of Lead Members are better understood and joint working between councillors and SMT is enhanced, and
- As part of the organisational development of the council to consider the councillor development programme, create a flexible structure, look at generic job roles, develop personal development plans and use the wider experience of colleagues and other councils
In relation to the 2021 report, the conclusions section provides some further advice for the council. This includes:-
- Capitalise on the enthusiasm of staff, communicate effectively and be bold moving forwards
- Address the issues of capacity in the organisation
- Councillors stepping into the organisational leadership role and being clear on their priority areas
- Capitalise on the council’s strong community leadership role
- Celebrate the council’s successes
The council will continue to implement the recommendations of the reports.
- February 2020 visit draft report (PDF 321KB)
- Corporate Peer Challenge Final report (PDF 196KB)
- Original CPC Recommendation Feb 2020