SCRUTINY BOARD Agenda Item: 10
Portfolio: Community and Regeneration
FROM: Business Manager,
Date: 17th October 2005
SUBJECT: Greater Prosperity Priority – Interim Review of
The attached report is an interim review of progress towards the
Summary: Council’s ‘Greater Prosperity’ Review. A fuller report will be
possible following the outcome of the Cultural Services Audit
To note the details of progress to date, and to endorse
Recommendation: observations made about improvements to measuring progress
on strategic priorities
Greater Prosperity, and indirectly Safer Cleaner Streets, and
Links to Priorities: Better Resource Management
Service Plan preparations for 2006 – 2007 are poised to start.
Impact on Service
The strategic review of ‘Greater Prosperity’ is still the template for
Financial implications addressed through Service Plans
None directly identified
Helps deliver the Council’s Section 17 obligations
Implications: None identified
Risk Assessment: Pursued as part of the business plan process
1. This report is the second of a series requested by the Scrutiny Board, looking at
what progress has been made towards achieving the wider objectives of the
Council’s three main corporate priorities. It deals with progress relating to the
Greater Prosperity priority.
2. The report is described as an interim one as it does not incorporate the results
of the recent Cultural Services Audit Commission Inspection. The inspection,
which covered work on the Arts, Tourism, Leisure, Sports Development Heritage
Open Spaces, Heritage and regeneration, is expected to provide an
independent commentary on the Council’s progress in a substantial, but not
exclusive block of services contributing to the Greater Prosperity.
3. Nonetheless, the Council is well into its second year of work on the priority, and
the information that follows gives a comprehensive service based assessment of
what has been achieved, what is in progress, and what is yet to be achieved.
The report also identifies some issues around progress towards achieving the
goals of greater prosperity.
4. ‘Greater Prosperity’ is one of the Council’s three principal priorities as adopted
by the administration in May 2003. It has since been incorporated into the
Council’s Corporate Plan, and is one of the key drivers across the breadth of the
Council’s work through the business planning process.
5. As part of the annual programme of inspections under the original ‘Best Value’
regime, Mendip agreed to undertake two strategic reviews of its main priorities –
notably a review of Safer Cleaner Streets and Greater Prosperity. These large,
‘cross-cutting’ reviews were in place of the original service based reviews, and
were undertaken in 2004.
6. The strategic review of Greater Prosperity was undertaken over a three month
period starting in May 2004. it was conducted by a team of councillors and
officers, and involved facilitated workshops and visits to other local authorities.
The findings were reported to both Scrutiny and then Cabinet where it was
approved in October 2004.
7. The importance of the strategic review is that it provided a very comprehensive
further breakdown of what was to be expected to be delivered by the Greater
Prosperity priority, and provided 93 separate actions right across the spectrum
of District Council work. These actions were adopted for the purposes of
business planning for 2005/06, and have provided a platform devising work
programmes under the direction of the Medium term Financial Plan (MTFP).
8. The outcome of the strategic review is attached as Appendix 1.
PROGRESS AGAINST PRIORITIES
9. The strategic review broke down the ‘Greater Priority’ priority into 9 separate
objective areas which are
Encouragement of business
Inclusion and well being
Sport, culture and leisure
Efficient town planning
Accessible council services
10. The progress made against the separate objectives, and the teams responsible
for the primary work is set out in Appendix 2. Individual services within the
Council were asked to populate what progress has been made in each area.
Some editing has taken place to reduce the text
11. The tabulation shows the very wide range of activity underway, expressed in a
detailed format. It illustrates how teams from diverse parts of the Council, both
statutory and discretionary are collectively contributing to the delivery of Council
12. It is difficult to pick out a representative sample of progress, but the following
illustrates a medley of progress, expressed as short, medium and long term
review of the development control function to provide a more efficient planning
service, resulting in a record planning development grant; bringing back in of the
homeless service, and its revitalisation; production of new ‘Welcome to Mendip’
signage; creating a business ambassador service, and a thriving Mendip Business
Exchange; revitalising the markets service; successful Mendip in Bloom
securing fit for purpose for the Council’s housing strategy, and rolling out its
objectives; agreeing a new blueprint for the Saxonvale area of Frome; secured
planning consent for major redevelopment of the Griggs/Huntsman site in Shepton
Mallet; approved 3 year funding for Arts KSO’s (key strategic organisations);
adopted lead organisation role for two of the five immediate priorities with the MSP;
secured partnership funding for work with PCT on health improvement, and
comprehensive programme rolled out
Securing the development of a major employment site at Coalway
Lane, Frome; progressing complex planning consents as part of the 10 year
redevelopment of Morlands; established strong community partnership under
‘Shepton 21’ Market and Coastal Towns (MCTi) initiative
13. It should also be remembered that some of the achievements already recorded
under the Safer Cleaner Streets, have also made a major contribution to Greater
Prosperity objectives, although are not part of this review. These include the
letting of new contracts for street sweeping and public toilet investment.
Improvements in these 2 areas alone are expected to deliver a major boost to
tourism promotion by providing a more attractive environment for visitors and
14. Of the three corporate priorities, Greater Prosperity, is perhaps the most
challenging to deliver over the longer term. Why is this?
15. Whereas the control of its own resources through ‘Better Resource
Management’, is largely in the gift of the Council, the wider economy of the
Mendip area and factors that affect its prosperity are subject to a myriad of
external pressures. The majority of these are outside the direct control of the
16. In such circumstances, the council’s interventions should to be timely, and
targeted in areas and services where it can demonstrate it can have an impact,
and where that impact is to a greater or lesser degree measurable.
17. In many areas of the Council’s discretionary work, this can be a challenging
exercise, despite a widespread feeling that many council interventions intuitively
feel about right. One such service intervention would for example be the
Council’s investment in tourism.
18. A number of issues emerge from what could be described as this rather ‘audit’
driven view of the Council’s work on greater prosperity
19. a) High level Targets. Many of the areas of work identified in Appendix 2 are
capable of measurement and identification of clear outcomes. This is
nonetheless an area which needs improvement. The Chief Executive is looking
to develop a number of high level targets for each priority. For greater Prosperity
this could include the level and type of patronage of sports, leisure and arts
facilities, improvements in the number of visitor nights/length of stay, and
improvements to the number of SME’s (small and medium enterprises) assisted
by the Council
20. b) Production of Strategies. While the strategic review has produced a very
wide and ambitious array of objectives for the Council to deliver, it could be
argued that what is lacking is a sense of long term direction. The Council lack s
a number of key strategy documents that could help provide that sense of
direction, and plans to produce them are referred to in Appendix 2. It is worthy of
note however that the provisional advise of the Audit Commission on the
Cultural Services review was not to rush into a spate of strategies. Key ones
would nonetheless appear to be a strategy for MDC’s major capital assets,
Leisure Provision, and Economic Development, including Tourism and Rural
21. c) Prioritisation A brave start has been made on addressing the objectives that
make up the Greater Prosperity priority, but it is debatable whether the Council
has the capacity to proceed on such a broad front simultaneously, and is simply
trying to do too much. Some of the identified objectives have been prioritized by
default in individual service plans, but it would make sense to formally prioritize
the identified actions as short medium and longer term objectives, and business
22. d) Innovation and Change The dynamics of the local economy are such that
the priority needs to take account of the rapid rate of change in the local area.
Mendip has, for example, seen an acceleration of the rate of large company
exodus from the area, but there has not been a corresponding increase in
unemployment. Job transfer, greater commuting and a good rate of job creation
by small business have compensated. Over time, Mendip may become an area
more focused upon dormitory status, and this will have implications for long term
thinking about whether investment in grater Prosperity is better focused on
people’s leisure time as much as about employment.
23. The Scrutiny Board is recommended to:
i) note the progress recorded in Appendix 2
ii) endorse the need to address points a) to d) as outlined above to assist in the
future assessment of progress in this area of work
Contact Officer: Malcolm Williams