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Gloucester City Council

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									                                 Gloucester City Council

            ‘Proud of our Past – Building for the Future’




                       Comprehensive Performance
                             Assessment



                      SELF-ASSESSMENT




contact:   Wendy Fabbro
           Resource Manager (Central Services)
           T : 01452-396179
           F : 01452-396334
           E : wendy.fabbro@gloucester.gov.uk
                                                      Version : May 2004
Part One : Setting the Scene


The District

i.     The city of Gloucester is an urban district that sits at the heart of the largely rural county of
       Gloucestershire, renowned for its areas of outstanding natural beauty. Covering an area of 15.64
       square miles, with a population of 110,500 and it is the most densely populated district in
       Gloucestershire. Gloucester provides a centre for a number of county-based activities, agencies and
       organisations. Acknowledged to be one of the top ten historic cities in the country, Gloucester has a
       rich heritage, including its renowned Norman cathedral and Victorian docks. Today, these combine
       with good employment and leisure opportunities, excellent road and rail links, easy access to air travel
       and the benefits of a waterside location to attract people to the city to live, work and visit.

ii.    The vision for Gloucester is to ‘create a fair, just and thriving community in which no one is seriously
       disadvantaged. Building on unique strengths as a diverse, multi-cultural population, good health and
       education facilities and a stable economy, our aim is to improve the quality of life and prosperity for
       everyone in the district. ‘Our Gloucester – Our Future’, the city’s community strategy shows how this
       is being achieved by tackling specific problems relating to crime, poverty, health, learning, leisure,
       regeneration and community participation.

The Local Environment

iii.   The River Severn has brought strategic and economic benefits to the city since Roman times.
       Gloucester’s central orientation around a cross and four gate streets dates back to medieval times.
       The architecture of the city is diverse, reflecting varying styles and tastes over the last four hundred
       years, whilst below ground lie extensive archaeological remains of national significance. Protecting
       and maintaining the city’s historic fabric (including 39 Scheduled Ancient Monuments and 705 listed
       buildings) whilst encouraging new development is a key challenge for the city (ref.1) and one which
       the council has played a key role in achieving.

iv.    The city has benefited from a wide range of high quality developments in the last few years, which the
       council has had either a direct or partnership role in. These include the pedestrianisation of the four
       gate streets; state of the art leisure and sporting facilities at the GL1 leisure centre and the Oxstalls
       Indoor Tennis Centre; a new campus for the University of Gloucestershire; the refurbishment of King’s
       Walk shopping centre; a high quality employment development at Waterwells and a range of quality
       residential schemes in the central area, including the conversion of listed warehouses in the historic
       docks, all of which is repopulating and revitalizing the central area and delivering its potential as a high
       quality living and working environment. The unattractive appearance and poor quality of some past
       developments in the city have had a detrimental affect on the cityscape. However, the emphasis
       placed by the council on quality schemes in recent years is rapidly turning this around. (ref.2)

v.     Gloucester’s natural environment includes 17 parks and 141 smaller parks, rest garden areas and
       public open spaces. There are 7 designated Local Nature Reserves and two Site of Significant
       Interest – Robinswood Hill and Hucclecote Hay Meadow. The city’s achievement of a gold award in
       the 2003 Britain in Bloom competition (ref.3) reflects the high level of commitment the council has
       made to improving the local environment for both local people and visitors. Air quality in the city is
       generally good although traffic congestion raises pollution levels, particularly at peak times.

vi.    Within the city, there is a good public transport service, including park and ride schemes operated by
       the city council on behalf of the county council. Although Gloucester residents see roads as less in
       need of improvement than in neighbouring authorities; the road transport infrastructure has been
       identified by both the city and county councils as an area where considerable investment is needed to
       accommodate Gloucester’s major regeneration proposals (ref.4), strategically planned growth and
       economic well being. Central to this is the provision of the Gloucester South West Bypass which is
       currently under construction and has been promoted in partnership with the County Council The city
       council’s ‘green transport’ initiatives, including its public transport promotion and “free Bikes” scheme
       with new housing, are notable examples of our holistic approach to transportation issues.

The Local Economy

vii.   The economy of Gloucester is strong and growing steadily. The main employment sectors are: public
       administration, education and health (24.1%); distribution, hotels and restaurants (22.0%); banking,
       finance, insurance etc. (16.6%); and manufacturing (16.4%). As one of the principal urban areas
       within the south West Region, Gloucester is a major employment centre. The annual business enquiry
       (ABI) 2002 estimates that there are 3700 businesses in Gloucester employing a total of 60,700
                                                        1
        people. The majority of business units are small employers with almost 60% of businesses in
        Gloucester employing 1-4 employees in 2002. Our supplier analysis suggests many rely on city
        council trade. Tourism supports over 3,700 jobs in the city (7% of the workforce) and brings an
        estimated £100m into Gloucester each year. Unemployment currently stands at 3.4% which is the
        same average as England and Wales (3.4%), but significantly above the county average at 2.2%.
        Relatively low unemployment across the county has created some problems in terms of recruitment
        and retention for the council and other employers. Gloucester’s main challenge however is in ensuring
        local people have the right skills to take up local jobs. However, Gloucester is well ‘e’ enabled, with
        access to Broadband throughout the city, 8 street kiosks giving web access and 41% of homes with
        web access (according to BV Residents survey). (ref.5)

viii.   The cost of living in Gloucester is lower than the county average. The average house price is 126,770
        against £176,232 and £263,835 in Cheltenham and the Cotswolds respectively. However, average
        incomes are low and annual house price increases at 15.6% up to September 2003 have been higher
        than the county average (14.9%). This is causing problems for first-time buyers in particular and
        pressure is being put on the rented sector and on social housing, a priority for the council

ix.     Gloucester’s central location within Gloucestershire, its excellent transport links and comparatively low
        land prices make it attractive for new housing and commercial development. The city enjoyed
        considerable inward investment during the late 1980s and early 90s with the partial regeneration of the
        docks and relocation of major employers into the city, including the Bank of England. Major
        investment waned in the 90s, despite the council’s best efforts, but recent years have seen further
        regeneration of the docks and improvements to Kings Walk shopping centre. The ODPM finally gave
        the go ahead to the development of St. Oswald’s Park in Autumn 2003 and regeneration proposals
        are being explored for King’s Square, the Blackfriars area of the city, and Westgate, including
        Gloucester park. The new Heritage Urban Regeneration Company is tasked with helping the council
        to achieve the city’s development priorities.

Housing

x.      There are around 47,000 homes in the city, 77.7%of which are owner-occupied, 8.2% are rented
        privately, 3.5% is rented social housing from housing associations and registered social landlords, and
        the remaining 10.4% is council social housing. The standard of housing is generally good, although
        there are pockets of poor housing such as the area around the park where a number of private sector
        properties with multiple occupants require significant investment. The council’s own stock of 4771
        properties needs £29.5M spending on it over the next seven years to bring it up to the decent homes
        standard.

xi.     At present, there is a lack of affordable housing and suitable family accommodation in particular. The
        number of council properties is diminishing each year and there are currently over four thousand
        people on the waiting list for social housing in the city, with estimated waiting times of up to ten years
        for family homes. With future predictions regarding increased demand for single-person
        accommodation, the council’s housing strategy has some particularly tough challenges to meet.

Gloucester’s Communities

xii.    Gloucester’ is 162 out of 354 in the deprivation index for local authority areas in England. Two of its
        wards are among the 10% most deprived in the country. Barton and Tredworth is the most deprived
        ward in Gloucestershire and the city has four other wards which are among the ten most deprived in
        the county. In comparison to other areas of the county, Gloucester has some wards with very high
        unemployment rates. These include Westgate (11.9% males, 6.1% females), Matson (8.8% males,
        4.2% females) and Barton and Tredworth (7.7% males, 3.8% females). 7.6% of the population claim
        support or benefits and Gloucester has the largest number of people claiming unemployment benefits
        for more than twelve months in the county

xiii.   The district has a relatively young population. 21.5% of residents are aged under 16 and 17.4% are of
        retirement age, compared with 19.8% under 16 and 18.4% of retirement age for England and Wales.
        Statistics also show that 22.5% of homes are pensioner households, 30.2% are one-person
        households and 6.9% are lone parent households (ref.6). In keeping with national trends however,
        the city’s population is aging and future predictions estimate a 5% increase in the number of over 75s
        by 2030.

xiv.    Gloucester is also a multi-cultural city, and a centre for asylum seekers. The black and minority ethnic
        population (BME) stands at 9.86% which is almost the same as Bristol - the highest in the south west.
                                                        2
         New communities have been able to integrate without losing their identities, and relations between
                                                1
         communities are constructive and stable although the number of racist incidents is relatively high.

xv.      Local communities have good access to healthcare through GPs surgeries and the Trust which
         administers the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital has been rated three stars. However, the high number
         of teenage pregnancies is second only to Bristol in the southwest and coronary heart disease, diet and
         obesity have been identified as key health issues for Gloucester. The mortality ratio for Gloucester
         (100) is slightly above the county average (94), but in keeping with national trends.

xvi.     Residents also have excellent access to sports and leisure facilities, cultural facilities and events and
         public open space, many of which are provided directly by the council, through its museums, arts
         centre and countryside unit at Robinswood Hill park, for example. General public perceptions of some
         of Gloucester’s parks and open spaces are not as positive as they could be, and the council has
         identified these as a priority for improvement.

xvii.    Crime levels in Gloucester are relatively high compared with national figures and cities in our
         benchmarking group such as Exeter, Ipswich, Worcester, Carlisle and Chester. Public consultation
         shows that crime and the fear of crime are important issues for local people. The main problems in
         the city relate to burglary and car crime, drugs and alcohol, disorder (including robbery, violent crime
         and domestic violence), racist incidents and fear of crime, The Crime and Disorder Reduction
         Partnership is working hard to reduce these, and showing signs of recent success.

The Council

Political arrangements

xviii. Prior to the June 2004 elections, Gloucester City Council has 36 members, comprising 14
       conservatives, 11 labour members and 11 liberal democrats. It officially adopted the cabinet and
       leader model in 2001, having piloted it since the previous year. Elections take place annually by
       thirds, and in 2003, voter turnout was 28.87%. The council has been run by a joint labour and liberal
       democrat administration since 2002 and there are currently six cabinet members, including leader and
       deputy, with responsibility for seven portfolios. Gloucester has also had a Sheriff since at least 1200,
       and a Mayor since 1483. Today, the Mayor is ceremonial and acts as chair of the council as well as
       performing civic duties.

          Following an extensive consultation process the City Council held a Referendum on a proposal to
          have an Elected Mayor. Council adopted its fall back position of a Leader and Cabinet in October
          2001. The arrangements included the establishment of four Scrutiny Committees, (increased to
          include Regeneration scrutiny in 2003) and a scrutiny panel.

          Modernisation Team of the Government Office of the South West considered Gloucester best
          practice and as such the Council received a number of enquiries from other authorities in order to
          assist them in establishing their own Overview and Scrutiny arrangements. As a result, Gloucester
          City Council acted as a reference site for other authorities who wished to undertake a similar
          process. In addition the Head of Democratic Services provided training directly to a number
          authorities on this matter.

          In more recent times the authority received a visit from Professor Stephen Young of the Evaluating
          Local Governance; New Constitutions and Ethics (ELG) carrying out a research product on behalf of
          the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. As a result of the Study of 40 Council's across the country
          Professor Young found that the arrangements for scrutiny at Gloucester City Council were amongst
          the strongest of those authorities surveyed.
                                                                           case study – political arrangements

xix.     Five scrutiny committees are currently responsible for scrutinising the executive (although this is under
         active review: Executive scrutiny (chaired by a conservative member); Scrutiny committees one and
         two (covering three portfolios each and chaired by conservative members); Policy development and
         review scrutiny (chaired by a liberal democrat member), and Regeneration scrutiny (chaired by a
         conservative member). There is also a Scrutiny Panel that is currently chaired by the Managing
         Director and comprises of the chairs and vice chairs of the five overview and scrutiny committees. Its
         role is to co-ordinate and review the work programmes of the overview and scrutiny committees and
         advise cabinet on the allocation of resources. It liaises with the cabinet on the effectiveness of the
1
    Eg when the Police made a well broadcast arrest relating to terrorism in November 2003, the situation remained calm.
                                                             3
        overview and scrutiny process and recommends improvements. The Panel also oversees the training
        and development of overview and scrutiny members to ensure they have the necessary skills.

xx.     In addition, there are committees for standards, planning, licensing and enforcement, and
        organisational development, and working parties covering traffic, devolution and community
        participation, and electoral matters.

xxi.    The scrutiny function has become more effective over the last two years but requires further
        improvement to enable it to meet the full potential of its intended role and purpose. Scrutiny committee
        members have instigated a review of the current scrutiny arrangements to identify how these can be
        improved. The council also facilitates a number of forums which include members of the council and
        which enable local people to get involved in council-related issues and decision-making. These
        include Race Equality Forum, Disability Equality Forum, Tenants’ Forum, Environment and Ecology
        forum, Gloucester Youth Movement and Neighbourhood partnerships.

Officer arrangements

xxii.   Following a strategic review in 2001, organisational restructuring in 2002 resulted in the creation of a
        new corporate management team (CMT) of thirteen – two directors, six executive and four resource
        managers, headed up by a managing director. This has significantly improved strategic leadership
        and corporate management, reconnecting the senior management team with the staff and moving
        away from the restrictions of its former departmentalism (ref.7). Major projects such as customer
        access, e-government, risk management, procurement and strategic partnering regularly draw on the
        skills and expertise of staff from across the organisation in corporate project teams.

xxiii. Executive and resource managers’ responsibilities are clearly aligned with the portfolios and
       achievement of the council’s key aims and priorities. CMT drives the management and performance
       of the council through formal and informal meetings and works closely with cabinet individually and as
       a team. The council’s planning, prioritisation and budget-setting process has provided sound
       evidence of successful joint working and the good relationships which exist between officers and
       members.

Resources

xxiv.       Gloucester City Council has a skilled workforce of 902 people and land and fixed assets totalling
            over £261M. The general fund balance is currently low at 5% of the net revenue expenditure. The
            balance as a percentage of net revenue expenditure is in the lower quartile of district councils. The
            corporate strategy includes a performance target to achieve year-on-year increases in the general
            fund balances in line with Audit Commission recommendations and best practice. This will be
            implemented when budgets allow. A start has been made in 2004/5 when an increase of 13% in the
            working balance was approved.'

xxv.    Total capital loan debt currently stands at £250 per head of population, which is on a par with
        comparable councils. 60% of this debt relates to Housing revenue account and 40% to General fund.
        Although it is higher than some of the other authorities in Gloucestershire, these tend to be those
        (such as Cotswold) that have benefited from the sale of their housing stock.

xxvi. The 2004/05 revenue budget totals £14.4m and is funded as follows:
                                                        £M
            Revenue Support Grant                      5.987
            National Non Domestic Rates                3.018
            Council taxpayers                          5.345
            Transferred form collection fund           0.050
        TOTAL:                                         14.400

xxvii. For 2004/05, the council received a net increase of only 0.2% in its grant. The revenue budget faced
       a £2.5M deficit in 2004/05 which has now been addressed and the capital budget for 2004/05 currently
       stands at £ 10.63M. Housing revenue account income for 2003/04 is estimated at £20M and the HRA
       capital budget stands at £ around £4M. The council has, like many other authorities, suffered from
       lower returns on investments due to the global recession.

xxviii. Council tax in Gloucester has increased by only 5.3% on average over the last four years and by
        23.07% overall compared with the county and police at 46.13% and 106.95% respectively. Including
                                                         4
       parish precepts, the council tax payable on a band D property in Gloucester is £141.74 per year
       compared with neighbouring authorities (e.g. Cheltenham at £151.46, Tewkesbury at £102.48, Forest
       of Dean at £177.22) and CIPFA family group authorities (eg. Ipswich at £256.13 and Preston at
       £208.34). Gloucester also has a high percentage (almost 60%) of properties within bands A and B,
       and only four properties in band H (compared with Cotswold which has over 600).

Performance

xxix. In 2001/02 and 2002/03, the council’s Best value Performance Indicators (BVPI) compared with other
      district councils as follows:
                                  2001/02        2002/03       England                    2002/03
        Bottom quartile              13             19         Bottom quartile               15
        Lower middle quartile        18             12         Lower middle quartile         16
        Total                        31             31         Total                         31

        Upper middle quartile        14              8         Upper middle quartile          8
        Top quartile                  9             19         Top quartile                  19
        Total                        23             27         Total                         27

xxx.   In 2002/03, there were 62 reported performance indicators, of which 42 were comparable with
       2001/02. Between 2001/02 and 2002/03, 7 (17%) indicators remained the same, 20 (48%) showed an
       improvement and 15 (35%) worsened. The council recognises that improvement trends are less
       evident in some areas and is particularly aware of performance, which has declined in others.
       However, performance overall is now improving, particularly those areas that impact on the public and
       clear actions are in place to address areas of weakness.

       Partnership working

xxxi. The council is able to demonstrate an excellent track record of partnership working to deliver service
      and quality of life improvements in the city. Partnerships are central to the council’s vision. They are
      fundamental to Gloucester’s way of working and this is clearly reflected in the authority’s corporate
      strategy – through our strategic priorities, our past achievements and our future plans.

        The Gloucester partnership (LSP) is considered a good practice model and is currently one of only a
        handful of LSPs nationally which are being evaluated by the ODPM; Community Counts, the city’s
        neighbourhood management pathfinder was one of the first twenty schemes to achieve funding
        nationally, and the Building Communities partnership was one of only four successful bids for
        Regional Development Agency funding in the South West.                  case study - partnerships

       Summary

xxxii. Gloucester is an urban centre containing areas of high level of deprivation set within a relatively
       affluent, rural county. The key challenges it faces are not dissimilar to those faced by other major
       urban centres in the southwest such as Bristol and Exeter. Reducing deprivation and crime, creating a
       more attractive city, regenerating the city centre whilst protecting the historic environment and
       providing better housing which meets local people’s needs are all important issues for Gloucester
       residents which the council is already working to address.

xxxiii. At the same time, the city council is faced with the need to modernise and improve its services in
        accordance with its priorities. These include e government, cleansing, toilets, recycling and its service
        to customers generally. It must also improve its financial position, reducing the significant pressure on
        budgets felt in recent years. In these and other priority areas, action is already being taken.

xxxiv. In the longer term, the council faces the challenge of changing demographics, modernisation to focus
       more closely on customer needs and expectations. These are set against the potential for the
       authority to look and operate very differently. In all these respects, the council is already looking to the
       future.




                                                         5
Part Two : Corporate Assessment


1.    What is the council trying to achieve?

1.1   Our ambitions

1.1.1 Gloucester City Council has a clear vision and longer-term ambitions for the area which are set out in
      ‘Proud of our Past – Building for the Future’ – its corporate strategy. Its firmly stated aims are to
      make Gloucester:
         a safe, clean and pleasant city
         a prosperous, modern city which values its history
         a city that offers leisure opportunity for all
         a healthier city
         a city which involves people and communities
         an effective and well-run city council

1.1.2 These ambitions are securely rooted in the communities of Gloucester, their needs and aspirations.
      The council has achieved this through its leadership of the Gloucester Partnership (our Local Strategic
      Partnership) and through its close involvement in the creation of ‘Our Gloucester – Our Future’ – the
      community strategy for the city. The strategy has provided a sound strategic framework for our own
      corporate plan. Our ambitions reflect many of those in the community strategy and our corporate plan,
      together with our Best Value Plan, shows exactly how we will deliver, through our actions, the
      ambitions contained in ‘Our Gloucester – Our Future’. In turn, our responsibilities and those of others
      are clearly identified in the community strategy action plan.

1.1.3 The council has also drawn on evidence provided through extensive consultation (ref.8) it has
      undertaken in recent years involving people of all ages, sectors and cultural backgrounds within the
      city, to establish what is important to the people of Gloucester and where their aspirations lie.
      Neighbourhood partnerships, which the council has played a central role in establishing in three areas
      of the city, and the Community Counts neighbourhood management pathfinder have also proved vital
      in identifying what matters to local communities.

1.1.4 A position statement draws together the council’s vision for the economic development of the city
      region from the city and partner strategies to which it is committed, and research evidence. (ref.9)

1.1.5 Within the council, the ambitions have been widely communicated to both staff and members and all
      have had an opportunity to feed into the process of identifying what the ambitions should be. A clear
      communications plan shows how the vision and ambitions are being constantly reinforced and
      restated across the organisation – through a wide range of methods (ref.10) e.g. all staff briefing, but
      particularly linking individuals work review to corporate objectives. Outside the council, a
      comprehensive programme of new consultation has been undertaken, involving local residents,
      businesses, partners and other stakeholders to ensure our vision and ambitions are appropriate,
      realistic and sustainable in the longer term (ref.11). Significant progress has already been made
      towards our target awareness levels in keeping with the high levels of awareness we have achieved in
      the past.

1.1.6 The council has a strong track record in providing effective community leadership through its work at
      neighbourhood level and partnerships with the public, voluntary and private sectors and translated into
      service and project plans supported by standards and targets. Its role in this respect is widely
      recognised by partners and other stakeholders who see the council as accessible. In particular, the
      authority has played a key role in building cohesive and sustainable communities in partnership with
      others (see evidence below).

1.1.7 Although criticised in 2002 by a Peer Review for ambition exceeding resources, Gloucester has
      addressed this by attracting external funds; over £13 million Sports Lottery Funding, £3.6M of Single
      Regeneration Budget, £3.5M neighbourhood management, £3.5M Sure start and latterly £2.6M of
      Liveability (funding the potential for up to £1billion for regeneration from the HURC as reported by a
      Government Minister), has been brought into the city by the council, with partners, since the mid 90s.
      The benefits of this, particularly for black and minority ethnic communities continue to be felt today due
      to the sustainable approach adopted. BTD Ltd and the Barton and Tredworth Community Trust are
      excellent examples of this. Profits from the portfolio of assets developed by BTD Ltd provide funding
      for the Trust, which, in turn, provides ICT learning and other services through the Trust Centre.
      Families with small children receive help and support through the Sure Start centre. Small businesses
      benefit from advice and access to the ‘GLOBES’ business loan scheme through the Barton Enterprise

                                                       6
      Centre. The council played a leading role in setting up all of these facilities initially and continues to
      work with partners to help sustain them today.

1.1.8 Evidence of the city council’s community leadership role is also provided by the Challenging Attitudes
      Partnership which the authority was instrumental in setting up and which manages our SRB6 funding.
      The partnership provides wide-ranging support for black and minority ethnic communities, including
      training and employment opportunities. It is currently working to provide sheltered housing and a
      community centre for Chinese elders in the city and is leading on the community cohesion agenda on
      behalf of the LSP.

1.1.9 Partnership working with our one parish council has greatly improved as a result of strategic overview,
      and with county council recent achievements are the shared contact centre, HURC, joint scrutiny study
      on asylum seekers, Gloucestershire development loan fund, a information network (MAIDEN) joint
      training, black workers network, voluntary sector compact, etc.

       Through the LSP, the council has attracted £235K over the last two years to support activities to build
       community cohesion in the city. In 2003 this included local people being trained in carnival costume
       design resulting in a significant increase carnival participants and creating a sound skills base within
       the community for future years. In addition, Mediation UK were employed to train a group of local
       people to become mediators in community relations, again taking a sustainable approach to
       developing valuable skills within the community for the benefit of local people.
                                                                             case study – community cohesion

1.2   Prioritisation

1.2.1 In response to the need to more effectively prioritise areas for improvement, reducing the number of
      key aims and ensure that ambitions and priorities are aligned with organisational capacity, the council
      introduced a new corporate planning, prioritisation and budget-setting process in 2003/04. Faced with
      forecasts of significant pressure on budgets, the city council’s new approach to priority-setting and
      budget allocation for 2004/05 involved cabinet members in a thorough review of our revenue and
      capital budgets against council priorities and non-priority areas.

1.2.2 As a result, in order to achieve the key aims, eight strategic priorities were identified for the 5-year
      period 2004-9:
       to achieve good standards of cleanliness
       to work with others to reduce crime and the fear of crime
       to minimise waste and increase recycling
       to promote regeneration, in a way that reflects our history
       to achieve quality open spaces
       to work with others to deliver decent housing for all
       to achieve good public health standards
       to provide good customer services, ensuring access for all

      In addition, three organisational priorities were established:
       to improve customer satisfaction with council services
       to achieve a motivated quality workforce
       to deliver modern, efficient and effective services, with sound financial management

1.2.3 In doing this, the council has also identified, for the first time, what is not a priority. These are areas
      which, for example, are considered to be non-core, are non-statutory, have benefited from previous
      investment to reach an appropriate standard or are adequately provided by others. For Gloucester
      City Council, they include areas of the culture, learning and leisure portfolio such as contract
      archaeology and non-priority leisure facilities. The budget has been allocated accordingly for 2004/05
      and attention has now turned to producing a full 3-year financial plan. In setting the 2004/05 budget,
      the council has begun to shift resources away from non-priority areas such as sports development
      grants to the voluntary sector and other sporting activities into identified priorities such as recycling,
      e-government and customer focus. (ref.12)

1.2.4 This does not mean that areas of work which are not specifically mentioned within the strategic
      priorities will cease to be carried out efficiently and effectively, for example in the case of statutory
      areas of our work which are not identified as priorities. It does mean that the council will not be
      increasing investment within functions which do not directly contribute to the achievement of our
      priorities, except where essential. Resources have been redirected from these non-priority areas into
                                                       7
        priority areas now and in future years.        Continuous improvement and service efficiencies will
        nevertheless be sought across all services.

 1.2.5 The council conducts extensive consultation on spending and council tax levels and uses a wide
       range of intelligence when formulating policy and developing strategies and action plans for the future.
       This includes demographic information, Government targets, customer feedback, statutory
       responsibilities, national and regional initiatives, best value reviews, performance monitoring, internal
       consultation, peer and auditor reviews, future trends and forecasts.

 1.2.6 Understanding local needs and concerns we believe is essential in setting our priorities and we have
       used both formal consultation methods as well as less formal work at neighbourhood level to achieve
       this. Through the Gloucester Partnership (LSP) and neighbourhood structures which the council has
       helped to establish, much work has been done to identify the priorities of local communities and
       ensure this information is used to make changes and improvements. The neighbourhood renewal
       assessment and social needs assessment undertaken in the Westgate area of the city through the
       LSP have, for example, been used by the council to successfully attract Housing and Liveability funds,
       to directly inform our Housing Renewal Strategy and the prioritisation of traffic and transport initiatives.
       They have also informed current plans for the development of Gloucester Park. Other LSP members
       such as the Primary Care Trust and Learning and Skills Council are now also looking at how they can
       address the area’s needs.

 1.2.7 The needs of children and young people have been another strong area of focus for the council and its
       partners (ref.13). Improved facilities, including youth shelters, goal posts and multi-sports areas, have
       been provided for young people through the Three Bridges neighbourhood partnership and Crime and
       Disorder Reduction Partnership and Gloucester Partnership. Training for those interested in setting up
       and sustaining community play space and a summer programme of activities for young people
       focusing on community cohesion have resulted from work through the LSP. The council also helped
       to set up the Gloucester Youth Movement which meets with the cabinet to discuss issues such as the
       council’s priorities and budget, and has had an impact locally in areas such as cinema ticket pricing.

 1.2.8 The council’s current priorities provide a strong, five-year focus for the organisation, and they are
       reviewed annually to ensure they reflect national priorities such as recycling and decent homes whilst
       also meeting the needs of local people, e.g. Cabinet and Council have adopted Tenants Forum
       recommendations on decent homes.

 1.2.9 A wide range of methods has been used to communicate our priorities and we track staff awareness of
       major corporate issues. The Investor in People inspector highlighted the council’s ‘strong application of
       communication techniques’ in November 2002 and the IDeA peer review follow-up team found
       improvements in both internal and external communications in 2003.

1.2.10 Externally, the council’s close work with others when developing its priorities means many of these are
       already shared with partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors. To ensure the widest
       possible awareness of its priorities across the city however, the council has worked with the local
       Citizen newspaper on a series of features covering the council’s key aims. This is in addition to the
       ‘Pride in our City’ campaign, which has been implemented through joint working between the council
       and the Citizen as part of the ‘Partnership Plan’, agreed between the authority and the newspaper.
       We have also used voluntary organisation reception areas to communicate our priorities to hard-to-
       reach groups, as well as community newspapers including Enterprise News, Tenants’ Times and
       neighbourhood projects newsletters. Our interactive website and kiosks have also been well received
       and used by the public.

1.2.11 In recent years, the council has successfully aligned its key aims with the political arrangements and
       managerial structures, helping to establish clear responsibility and ownership for its ambitions and
       priorities.

1.2.12 In addition, the council’s emerging Medium Term Financial Plan shows the budget pressures and how
       the authority’s financial position will be improved over the next three years including the re-building of
       reserves which will allow it to deal more effectively with unforeseen opportunities and unplanned
       expenditure.

 1.3    Focus

 1.3.1 The council has demonstrated significant achievement in focussing on stimulating regeneration over a
       number of years driven by underlying trends in local retail and business economy. The move to the
                                                         8
      Docks offices was specifically to regenerate the area. In other services it has also significantly
      improved its ability to stay focused on what matters. The development of clear corporate aims and
      priorities, alignment with political and management structures and a sound performance management
      framework have enabled the authority to maintain its focus and achieve impact in the areas which
      matter to local people such as the appearance of the city (improved levels of cleanliness,
      redevelopment of the city centre and docks), crime and disorder (action taken to tackle anti-social
      behaviour and reduce graffiti) and better leisure facilities (new facilities provided at GL1 and the
      Tennis Centre).

1.3.2 The reduction of twenty-six key aims to just eight strategic priorities and three organisational priorities
      in 2003 has greatly sharpened that focus. In order to maintain focus, we use a robust performance
      management framework based on clear responsibilities and accountabilities, integrated planning,
      regular performance monitoring and the scrutiny function. The integrated cabinet work programme,
      best value performance plan, service plans and individual work plans are actively used within the
      organisation to ensure focus on priorities is maintained on an ongoing basis informed by the BV
      Residents survey (ref.14), HURC survey, and government priorities.

1.3.3 Both CMT and cabinet members are accountable for performance. Cabinet members have to account
      to scrutiny committees for poor performance and performance information is regularly used as a tool to
      ensure focus is maintained. Where improvement is needed, firm action is taken to get performance
      back on track. E.g.
       Standards of cleanliness in the city improved following Care and Maintenance best value review.
       Rent arrears reduced from £505K to £377K.
       Speed of processing new benefits claims improved from 70 to 36 days.
       Options to achieve decent homes standard evaluated following decent homes diagnostic pilot.
       Waste collection and recycling will show improvement in 2004/05

1.3.4 The role of cabinet members and the corporate management team in ensuring focus is maintained is
      paramount. Cabinet, scrutiny and CMT and team agendas have been improved to clearly reflect the
      council’s priorities as well as behaviours. These in turn are cascaded through Managers’ Forum and
      further briefings down through the organisation.

1.3.5 PRINCE2 project management methodology has been successfully implemented following an
      extensive and successful scrutiny study (Audit Commission report May 2004) to ensure a focus is
      maintained on the business objective of each project. (ref.15)

1.3.6 Future risks are assessed through the council’s new approach to risk management (ref.16) – at project
      initiation and service planning stages, for example. Corporate and service priorities are reviewed
      annually to ensure they remain appropriate and are impacting on issues of importance to local people.
      In the interim, any emerging issues or potential matters for council attention are considered against the
      council’s stated aims and priorities, available resources and other criteria before new initiatives are
      taken on.

1.3.7 Business process analysis and review has been introduced as a means of focusing on improving the
      efficiency and effectiveness of key services, using new technology where appropriate. (ref.17)


2.    How has the council set about delivering its priorities?

2.1   Capacity

2.1.1 The council has been working hard to ensure that it has the capacity and skills to deliver its priorities
      and achieve change. The restructuring of senior management and new cabinet structure recognised
      the need to improve our capacity against the key challenges facing the authority, in particular in
      meeting the modernisation agenda. The constructive relationship between officers and councillors
      ensures structures work effectively and efficiently. However, Gloucester has a low income in relation to
      neighbours and comparable authorities and is still resolving problems from the past. Management
      resources are stretched to cover project management and modernisation, which can cause some
      delay. (ref.18)

2.1.2 Our strategy, as reflected in our current People Plan and organisational health strategy, has been to
      identify gaps in policy and practice, train and develop existing staff or introduce new posts to enable
      the council to deliver its priorities - in customer access, procurement, performance management and
      project management, for example. Where skills are not readily available in-house, we work closely
                                                       9
        with other authorities and, in some instances with the private sector, to develop these. E-government,
        customer access, best value, options appraisal, risk management and strategic partnering are all
        areas in which we have worked with others to improve skills, knowledge and ability within the
        organisation. The council has a particular strength in developing managers.

 2.1.3 The strategy has also tackled human resources issues such as sickness absence, staff recruitment
       and retention. However, sickness absence still remains an issue for the authority and this is
       recognised in our current work programmes and improvement plans.

 2.1.4 The council has been very successful in attracting and recruiting BME (above top quartile) and has
       given strong support to ‘Quest’- the staff group representing BME staff.

 2.1.5 Following the IDeA Peer Review in 2000, the council clarified the roles of senior managers with new
       job descriptions and profiles, clear terms of reference for Directors’ Management Team, Corporate
       Management Team and Managers’ Forum. It has also redefined the relationship of the corporate
       management team (CMT) with members and the new political structures, through close alignment of
       key aims and portfolios and by establishing direct links between individual senior managers and
       cabinet members, scrutiny and other committees. These improvements were recognised in the peer
       review follow-up visit in 2003.

 2.1.6 The roles and responsibilities of members, including levels of delegation, have also been clearly
       defined. Our constitution provides guidance for officers and members on a range of issues, from the
       roles of scrutiny committees to contract standing orders and reflects the council’s ethical framework,
       including the member code of conduct and the planning code which has been recognised as a good
       model of its type. At Gloucester, the standards committee is able to provide evidence of being
       effective, benefit fraud and probity in planning being among the issues it has tackled to date, in
       association with the council’s monitoring officer.

 2.1.7 Decision-making processes are clearly defined within the authority. The quality and transparency of
       decision-making is good (reflected in a low call-in rate) and executive decision-making is focused at a
       strategic level through the cabinet work programme and forward plan. At the same time, the good
       practice measures which the authority has put in place can extend the decision-making process
       somewhat and the council is looking at ways to improve this.

 2.1.8 Regular group leaders’ meetings provide an opportunity for opposition members to be consulted and
       to feed into the decision-making process in a less formal environment to that of the larger committees.

 2.1.9 The very positive way in which officers and members work together to provide community leadership
       and better services can be seen, for example in best value reviews and community-based initiatives
       such as the neighbourhood partnerships and the Gloucester Partnership which involve both executive
       and non-executive members. A new neighbourhood strategy is currently being prepared which will
       clarify the council’s role in and overall approach to partnerships. The March 2004 Audit commission
       review of the effectiveness of partnership working was positive.

2.1.10 Ongoing training is considered vital in ensuring members have the skills and abilities to fulfil their roles
       and comprehensive member induction and training programmes are provided, including project and
       performance management for example. Ensuring maximum take-up of all training opportunities is
       something the authority has highlighted for improvement. This is less of an issue where training is
       compulsory – for planning committee members, for example.

2.1.11 Through the development of Medium Term Financial planning, the council is already tackling its
       financial position and will continue to do so over the next three years to meet its priorities. In addition
       to this, we have implemented best value, procurement and e-government strategies which have led
       the council to explore alternative means of service delivery, including strategic partnering for ‘care and
       maintenance’ services, joint procurement with other district councils in Gloucestershire and the county-
       wide Local Government Online project. The capital programme is dependent on review of current
       assets, and although this is being actively pursued, some projects are delayed.

2.1.12 Leverage is an important element of the council’s approach to capacity building. £25K of funding for
       the Urban Regeneration Company has already levered a total of £750K in revenue funding, and the
       council’s contribution through grants to the voluntary sector is calculated by the local auditor to lever
       additional funds at a ratio of at least 6.7:1.



                                                        10
2.1.13 In a recent Audit Commission study, it was reported that ‘external stakeholders feel that the city
       council is genuinely committed to working in partnership’. Partnership work achieving key outcomes
       includes:
          Neighbourhood rangers scheme established and ‘liveability’ issues dealt with at neighbourhood
           level (including litter, flytipping, anti-social behaviour) through Community Counts scheme.
          Joint Gloucestershire districts and County Council best value summary to every household in the
           city cost a total of £48.
          Volunteer wardens scheme linking to rangers currently being set up through Three Bridges
           neighbourhood partnership.
          £4M and commitment to a new neighbourhood centre in Westgate area obtained from South West
           Regional Development Agency through Building Communities partnership, involving the Primary
           Care Trust, Social Services, Libraries and Health Trust.
          Over 60 new bus shelters and 8 ‘i-plus’ kiosks provided to date for local residents and visitors
           through an agreement with Adshel.
          Shelters providing meeting places for young people set up in Quedgeley and Podsmead through
           the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership and Gloucester Partnership.
          Sport specific action plans for Athletics, Girls Football, Rugby Union, Netball, Hockey, Tennis and
           Cricket developed through the Gloucestershire Sports Advisory Group integrating National and
           regional governing body initiatives.

 2.2   Performance Management

 2.2.1 The city council has significantly improved its performance management arrangements in recent
       years. It has used the Performance Breakthrough model as a tool for developing a broader
       approach to performance management, and in 2004 the ‘management dashboard’ system for
       performance management has been introduced to support achieving corporate strategic priorities.
       Barriers to better performance management have already been identified and improvements made
       both in operational management and through CMT monitoring and Member scrutiny function. The
       council’s progress in improving its approach to performance management and the accuracy of its
       performance information is recognised in the Audit Commission’s 2003/04 People and Performance
       Management report.

 2.2.2 The council’s performance management framework drives improvement across the organisation
       through its key components:
        Best Value and business process reviews involving a wide range of staff are used to identify
           strategic and service based improvements each year.
        Corporate aims and priorities are used as the basis for all corporate, service and individual/ team
           plans and SMART targets, Service standards for all services have been developed publishing and
           displaying at reception areas.
        The number of local indicators has been prioritised and specific quality of life, community strategy
           and PSA indicators are identified within the system. In addition, a new ‘hierarchy’ of performance
           indicators has been introduced, allowing different indicators to be monitored at different levels in
           the organisation.
        Investment in modernisation of key business software applications such as IBS, and from 2004 a
           performance management software package (PerformancePlus from InPhase) will be rolled out to
           give better real time access to performance information and allow officers and members to
           interrogate the system to monitor how individual projects, activities or performance indicators are
           affecting the delivery of the key priorities.
        Quarterly portfolio-based performance reports and twice-yearly corporate performance reports are
           reviewed by the Corporate Management Team, Scrutiny Committees and Cabinet. Tenants forum
           has influenced how information is presented to ensure it is easy to understand. All information is
           made available electronically. This includes performance against the county council’s public
           service agreement targets that are also reviewed periodically through meetings at county level.
        Monitoring and evaluating partnership working and working with young people.

 2.2.3 The council’s customer access strategy monitors performance in how we are driving a customer focus
       through the organisation, based on customer intelligence from feedback, surveys and the customer
       tracking (CRM) system.

 2.2.4 Significant progress has been made by the council in its approach to risk management, as confirmed
       in a 2004 Audit Commission report. In addition to the creation of the risk management strategy (that
       meets CIPFA/SOLACE, ALARM best practice) and a strategic risk register, the assessment of risk is
       now an integral part of the development of annual service plans, best value improvement plans and
                                                      11
      the council’s medium term financial plan. A corporate risk management group brings together the skills
      and expertise of officers from different parts of the authority and is responsible for implementing the
      strategy.

2.2.5 The council also has made significant progress in ensuring robust projects management (Audit
      Commission report 2004) PRINCE 2 project management methodology has been adopted for all major
      projects. Both officers and cabinet members are involved in assessing and reviewing risks and
      ensuring progress towards project business objectives. Scrutiny committees one and two and
      regeneration scrutiny committee also play a key role in this respect.

2.2.6 The council’s budget is set in accordance with its corporate priorities and targets and sound
      performance and financial management are the means by which we ensure focus is maintained and
      targets are met. The introduction of a new financial system in 2002 has enabled the council to monitor
      its financial performance more effectively than ever before. This is done at both officer and member
      level and executive scrutiny has specific responsibility for reviewing our financial performance at a
      corporate level. Improvements to our accounting system and financial reporting were recognised in
      the Audit Commission’s 2003 Annual Audit and Inspection Letter.

2.2.7 Value for money is identified via best value and business process reviews. Our Asset Management
      Plan was given a ‘good’ rating by the ODPM in 2002 and so exempted the authority form annual
      submission. However, the authority is continuing to update the plan and build on this early work as it
      considers it to be a central element in ensuring we are making the best use of our resources.

2.2.8 The council is able to provide many examples of how it has used its limited resources to best effect to
      deliver key outcomes for local people, including:
         Section 106 funds (case study table).
         Successful alignment of LSP and council priorities, avoiding duplication and allowing joint working
          on developments such as improved youth facilities and the development of the Westgate area.
         Partnership working which has enabled the council to attract significant lottery funding for GL1
          leisure centre and funding from partners such as Sport England and Barton and Tredworth SRB.
         Through working in partnership with Glos County Council and the other five county districts the
          Gloucestershire Sports Advisory Group secured £1,266,845 for the delivery of sport within the
                           st
          County up to 31 August 2008 from Sport England.
         Partnership working which has enabled the council to attract significant capital funding for GL1
          Leisure Centre and Oxstalls Tennis Centre as well as numerous awards for sports clubs within the
          area.
         Liveability and building community funds.
         Grant aid which draws down funding in the ratio of 6.7:1
         Delivery of high quality programmes of arts, activities and events for local people such as ‘Blast!’
          through work with national and regional agencies, including South West Arts.
         Work with other local authorities to jointly provide products and services such as the ‘Working
          Together’ performance and council tax booklet, best value surveys, shared call centre and
          interactive A-Z, videos and tapes providing benefits advice for the hearing and visually impaired.
         Pooling of resources with wide range of key partners to attract significant funding into the city for
          major initiatives including the Education Achievement Zone, Surestart and Music Achievement
          Zone.
         Organisation of self-financing training events and conferences such as the recent Regulation of
          Investigatory Powers Act 2000 training.
         Improved performance in the Planning section brought in £370,000 grant for planning
          development.


3.    What has the council achieved/not achieved to date?

3.1   Achievement in quality of service

3.1.1 86% of local indicators and 64% of BVPI have met or exceeded their targets, and 20 key prioritised
      indicators on services impacting on the public have shown improvement. Quartile figures for ¾ are not
      available yet but against 2002/03 approximately 50% of indicators are above average.

3.1.2 Quality services are monitored via customer satisfaction surveys with service users and the BV
      residents’ survey for a more general perspective. This reported 51 % satisfied with the council- holding

                                                     12
        position over 3 years in the context of a national declining trend. The Race and Disability equality fora
        actively contribute to improvement of quality e.g. identifying optimal surfacing for pedestrian areas,
        street scene specifications etc. High quality services are being provided by Gloucester City Council
        through each of its portfolios and quality service provision is clearly aligned with the authority’s key
        aims and strategic priorities though performance is not yet consistently high.

        A safe, clean and pleasant city

 3.1.3 Satisfaction with the council’s household waste collection service is currently high at 93% and the
       council’s speed in removing fly tips is excellent, taking on average less than a day (0.78 days at
       present). Offensive graffiti is removed within 24 hours and Britain in Bloom judges awarded a gold
       standard for “a very clean and tidy Gloucester” “the most improved in the region” in summer 2003.
       Clean streets is a high priority for local people and BV survey satisfaction is low, but a recent ‘I-poll’ on
       street kiosks shows around 95% of respondents are satisfied with the area around the 8 city centre
       kiosks. Working in partnership with the police and DVLA, we also provide very effective response to
       the problem of abandoned cars through ‘Operation Dodger’ which has been hailed as an example of
       best practice, removing 2000 cars from Gloucester streets in 2 years.

 3.1.4 We achieved a national premier award for our Safer City project and our Crime and Disorder
       Reduction Strategy has been given a Gold standard award by the Government Office for the South
       West.

 3.1.5 Liveability funding has been awarded in recognition of the improvement in the quality of services that
       can be achieved by the council.

 3.1.6 City Rangers have been increased from 2 to 14.

 3.1.7 Our city centre manager has been named as one of three finalists in Shopping Centre Magazine’s
       Town Centre Manager of the Year award, based on contribution to the city’s regeneration agenda and
       retail development.

 3.1.8 By making it easy for local people to report highways problems and responding quickly when contact
       is made, we are able to maintain a quality highways maintenance service, which receives few
       complaints. We currently repair 93.5% of large potholes on average within 24 hours and 99.4% of our
       street lamps are working as planned.

 3.1.9 Constant efforts to improve our recycling service in recent years mean that we now offer a quality
       service to many people in the city, although we recognise that targets have not been met. 100% of
       the local population live within 1km of recycling facilities and 99.79% are now served by our kerbside
       collection service. In recognition of our work in this area, we have achieved the National Green Apple
       award for environmental improvements.

3.1.10 Cemeteries and the crematorium are other areas of this portfolio able to demonstrate high quality
       service delivery. Our Institute of Burial and Cremation Administration ranking is now 11 out of 74,
       reflecting our high level of achievement in customer service improvements. The Crematorium has
       entered a national competition to demonstrate the service quality The quality of our highways
       maintenance, refuse collection, cemeteries and crematoria was recognised by inspectors in the care
       and maintenance of the city best value review in 2003.

        A prosperous modern city which values its history

3.1.11 We achieved a World Business Award for Sustainable Partnerships with partners at the 2002 World
       Summit and the environmental improvements we made at St. Mary de Crypt were given a National
       Street Design Scheme commendation.

3.1.12 The council’s planning service has just been awarded £370,000 for Planning Delivery Grant based on
       significant improvement having transformed itself from one of the worst performing planning authorities
       to one of the best in the last four years. Overall, it now determines about 80% of all applications within
       the statutory period. Additionally the quality of the service has been enhanced through the
       development of a customer focus panel and recognised by a Royal Town Planning Institute award for
       a development in 2003.

3.1.13 The high quality of service provided by our Building Control team is reflected in its achievement of ISO
       9002 accreditation in 2001 and it is now well on the way to updating this with the achievement of the
                                                         13
          ISO 9001, 2000 standard. A video produced by the team for householders on building an extension
          has been recognised as a model of good practice.

3.1.14 Following the instigation of the only UK Heritage Urban Regeneration Company, a fully
       constitutionalised company has now been approved by the ODPM and this will provide a powerful and
       effective partnership vehicle for the delivery of widespread and multi-dimensional regeneration in the
       coming years.

3.1.15 The tourism office, and city centre manager are working with the Universities of Gloucestershire and
       Texas to bring a prestigious conference to Gloucester.

          A city that offers leisure opportunity for all

3.1.16 Local residents (and particularly) service users have expressed high levels of satisfaction with the art
       and leisure facilities through the GL1 leisure centre and Oxstalls Indoor Tennis Centre which attract
       regional and national events, the Tourist information centre which has won awards for service, and the
       Guildhall which offers a wide range of arts events for all sections of the community.

3.1.17 The excellent customer service provided by the Guildhall Arts Centre was recognised through the
       achievement of its chartermark award in 2002. The Guildhall currently has a 97% satisfaction from its
       customers and the Tourist Information Centre achieves high levels of satisfaction with 100% of its
       users, as reflected in annual customer surveys. In addition, our museums service meets the national
       standards of the Museums Registration Scheme. Robinswood Hill Conservation and Rare Breeds
       Farm has been described by Britain in Bloom judges as “a delight and a great attraction to all who
       visit”. However, prioritisation of resources has led to some public dissatisfaction with the availability of
       the Folk museum and Beaufort sports centre (though encouraging an innovative new management
       arrangement has secured the centre).

          A healthier city

3.1.18 The link between health and housing is well recognised. For many years, our Housing Strategy and
       HRA Business Plan have consistently been rated amongst the best in the southwest by the
       Government Office for the South West.

3.1.19 Over 1000 new affordable homes have been provided through the planning system, and as a founder
       member of the Gloucester Housing Market Partnership, (GHMP) 1200 will be provided in the next 10
                                                                                                      2
       years. Regeneration of older housing has completed in Barton and Tredworth, and has won awards
       but there are still considerable challenges in Westgate ward, now the focus of LSP.

3.1.20 In addition the council’s record on the % of voids has consistently been in top quartile performance
       and our performance is currently in the upper quartile both for vacant private sector dwellings and
       council house voids. In order to tackle the use of Bed and Breakfast facilities Gloucester has built a
       stock of short term lets significantly greater than other districts.

3.1.21 Low income is known to be a factor contributing to poor health. The council’s welfare benefits take up
       campaign has so far assisted over 600 people and generated over £210,000 additional income in
       2003/04.

3.1.22 Our benefits service was re-awarded the chartermark status in 2000 and a good report from the
       Benefits Fraud inspectors in 2000. At the last survey, the satisfaction rating for users of our benefits
       telephone service was 82%, satisfaction of users with staff in the benefits office was 87% and
       satisfaction of users with time taken for benefits decisions to be made was 77%, all ratings being just
       one or two percentage points below top quartile figures. Working with DWP, and top quartile
       authorities on a business process review speed of processing has made remarkable progress.

3.1.23 The council’s environmental health service works to safeguard health throughout the city. Following a
       Best Value review of the service, resources have been directed to priority areas of work such as free
       rodent control for domestic premises, increased staff resource to improve standards in houses in
       multiple occupation, and health and safety in workplaces. The team has also achieved 100%
       completion of high-risk food safety inspections as required by the Food Standards Agency. A multi-
       agency partnership has been established to ensure public safety is protected through effective
       licensing. The service was given an overall rating of 95% for quality by customers in 2003 and we

 2
     ‘Most innovative use of Homes over shops’ in 2003
                                                           14
        have achieved the BS7666 standard in respect of our environmental health database, which assists us
        to manage workload and prioritise action.

3.1.24 The council is working with a range of partners in an attempt to reduce the impact of illness and injury
       related to lifestyle e.g. smoking, drinking alcohol, substance abuse, street dwelling. It has completed a
       number of successful projects e.g. street drinkers day centre, drug rehabilitation accommodation. It is
       encouraging healthier lifestyles, particularly through its new sports facilities and healthy living centre.

        A city which involves people and communities

3.1.25 The council provides good electronic access to many of its services – currently 83% of interactions
       capable of electronic service delivery are accessible in this way and the council is well on track to
       achieve 100% by 2005. Best value inspectors have recently praised our website and we receive many
       positive comments from users throughout the year compared with a very small number of complaints.
       A highly successful arrangement with Adshel and I-plus to provide 8 street kiosks now offers a source
       of public consultation, and provides real time public transport information at bus stops.
                                                                 th
3.1.26 Prince Charles recently awarded certificates to the 100 ’team’ to complete a 12-week course with the
       Prince’s Trust volunteer programme.        Young Gloucestershire was the first UK independent
       organisation to deliver the programme, benefiting many local charities.

        An effective and well run city council

3.1.27 The council successfully retained Investor in People status in November 2002 (ref.19). The authority
       is an accredited test centre for the European Computer Driving Licence for council and voluntary
       sector staff and over 87employees have achieved the standard to date. The % of BME employees is
       well above top quartile, and staff are supported by ‘QUEST’, which also contributes to the
       development of policy and service planning. Problems in sickness absence management have been
       recognised and plans are in place to improve.

3.1.28 The council’s Asset Management Plan and Capital Strategy for 2003/4 were given a ‘good’ rating by
       the Government Office for the South West and we have achieved BS7666 standard in respect of our
       electoral registration scheme.

3.1.29 In 2003, the external auditor assessed our internal audit work as meeting all eleven standards of the
       CIPFA Code of Practice for Audit in Local Government in the UK.

3.1.30 The 2003 Audit Commission inspection of e-government reported Gloucester as “making real
       progress” and recognised it “adopted a methodical approach with appropriate arrangements for
       managing projects”.

3.1.31 The council’s approach to its corporate identity and e-learning are both included on the IDeA website
       as models of good practice.

3.1.32 The councils strategic risk register is seen as good practice, and the emerging operational risk register
       will place the council very well on the Audit diagnostic evaluation.

 3.2    Achievement of improvement

 3.2.1 Our performance indicators help to show some of the sustained improvements we have made in
       recent years:
                                                           2000/01     2001/02 2002/03 2003/04
           Proportion of housing rent collected                      95.3%       96.35% 96.4%         97.16
           Time to process new benefit claims                                           70 days       36 days
           Percentage of household waste that is recycled            6.67%       6.63% 8.03%          9.7%
           Visits to/use of museums per 1,000 population             n/a         727.74 796.86        956
           Vehicle crimes per 1,000 population                       24.2        25.9   23.3          29.34
           Cost of development control per application                                  £304          £176
           Services accessible electronically                                    37%    83%           86%
           Tenants satisfaction with housing management service                  72%    87%           n/a
           SAP rating of LA owned dwelling                                              50            61.5
           Private dwelling returned to occupation                                      73            140

                                                        15
      64% of BVPI met or achieved targets, 86% of local PI met or achieved targets. In addition, the council
      is able to demonstrate many improvements it has made in accordance with each of its key aims:

3.2.2 A safe, clean and pleasant city

          £600,000 Government grant won in 2003 for recycling and significant improvements made to the
           recycling service, including extension of green box scheme and introduction of weekly paper
           collection.
          Action taken to reduce hatching of seagull eggs by egg-oiling was 100% successful in 2003.
          Cleanliness of the city improved through new cleansing methods and new approach to tackling
           chewing gum.
          CCTV coverage expanded to 47 cameras.
          Improvements to our cemeteries and crematorium service include better signage, a loop system
           for the hard of hearing and improved facilities for Chinese, Muslim and other minority community
           groups.
          Direct action taken to improve anti-social behaviour problems including control of busking and
           touting in the city centre, expanding the team of city rangers from 2 –14, seconding an officer
           from the Police to focus on ASB and eviction of noisy neighbour tenants. Audio equipment has
           been confiscated where noise has been at nuisance levels.

3.2.3 A prosperous, modern city which values its history

          Section 106 agreements (ref.20)
          Urban renewal (ref.21)
          Percentage of planning applications determined within 8 weeks increased from 50% to 80% and
           a new ‘fast-track’ service introduced for minor proposals. Percentage of planning applications
           determined within time increased to 80%.
          2600 housing units, including 800 affordable homes at Eastchurch at a value of £50M.
          Successfully attracted £15M of RDA funding, in partnership with others, for development of
           Gloucester Docks.
          Variety of measures introduced to reduce the use of cars in the city, including improved facilities
           for buses, work on the national Cycle Network and development of travel plans with local schools.
          Business development options applied to our Building Standards and Control service have
           increased our market share of domestic and new build from 5% to 43% in two years.
          Townscape Heritage Initiative scheme has resulted in improvements to seven buildings in the city
           since 2002.
          Government target for new homes built on previously used land has been exceeded through our
           Local Plan approach of promoting regeneration and brownfield development (BV106).

3.2.4 A city that offers leisure opportunity for all

          GL1, a new regional leisure centre situated within the city centre and adjoining the two most
           deprived areas Gloucester opened in August 2002 and attracted 510,000 users in its first year of
           operation (2003/04).
          Oxstalls Indoor Tennis Centre opened in January 2001 as a result of partnership working and
           attracted 135,000 users in 2003/04.
          Asian women’s swimming sessions at GL1 and excellent disabled persons’ facilities at the Indoor
           Tennis Centre have increased hard to reach users of these services significantly.
          £60K obtained from English Nature towards the sustainable management and development of
           designated Nature Reserves at Horton Road, Podsmead, and Barnwood Arboretum.
          increase to the size of Robinswood Hill successfully negotiated by means of a land swap with a
           private developer.
          Monthly programme of Hindi cinema and live events at the Guildhall have achieved audiences
           significantly above target.
          Visitor figures to museums in top quartile.
          Animals from the city farm enhance neighbourhood events and the environment e.g. at Horton
           Road cemetery.

3.2.5 A healthier city

          Provision of housing for young parents improved through a supported housing scheme of 12 flats
           in the Barton area, completed in 2003.
          Facilities for single homeless people and rough sleepers improved with support from ODPM.
                                                       16
               A significant improvement in the take up of benefits has brought an extra £250,000 to households
                in the city.
               Significant improvement in the speed of processing benefit claims.
               Average SAP energy efficiency improvement.
               BV64 significant improvement.
               Accommodation plan for people with mental illness has achieved supported housing for 20 single
                persons and a further 11 flats within the last 2 years.
               New Living and Learning Centre opened at GL1 leisure centre in partnership with the University
                of Gloucestershire and the Primary Care Trust.
               Council’s translation and interpreting service has trained community interpreters to provide
                language support in GP surgeries.
               Current rent arrears reduced by 30%.
               Performance in collection of non-domestic rates due has been increased to top quartile.

3.2.6 A city which involves people and communities

               Opportunities for local people to participate in community and council service development have
                been improved through the creation of four neighbourhood partnerships, which the council has
                played a lead role in developing.
               Successful bid for £1.4M of SRB6 funding achieved by the Black and Ethnic Minority community,
                supported by the city council.
               £3.5M obtained with Community Counts to tackle social exclusion and improve service delivery.
               8 on-line information kiosks set up in the city centre in partnership with Adshel, improving
                customer access to council and other city services, averaging 15,000 users per month.
               £600,000 of Local Government On-line funding achieved for a countywide call centre and
                improved customer relationship management.
               First stage Government support for ‘Building Communities’ funding achieved which may bring up
                to £10M into the city for regeneration in the Westgate Ward.
               Total number of Shopmobility trips increased to 9,658 in 2003.
               Welfare rights service levers in over £200,000 pa.

3.2.7 To be an effective and well-run city council
               Achievement of General fund capital debt reduced by £3million (25%) following land sale.
               Launch of shared City / county councils contact centre, supported by county (7 authorities)
                interactive A-Z knowledge management.
               County-wide data network for resilience.
               Through our modern apprenticeship/trainees scheme, we have increased the percentage of
                trainees moving into sustainable employment from 83% to 100%.
               Translation service expanded to cover 42 languages.
               Website re-launched in 2002 to include new information and ease of use improved (including on
                line booking for leisure events and activities, resulting in 25,000 hits per month against 1,200
                previously, and an average 10,000 hits per month to the Kiosks. 83% services available
                electronically, and e take up enhanced by e-payments by debit and credit cards in some services,
                and ability to pay at post offices and paypoints, the IBS benefits system Gloucestershire
                electronic partnership Local government on line projects, etc.

3.2.8       Through these and other improvements, the council has had a significant impact on the quality of life
            of all who live and work in or visit the city. The council’s strong commitment to sustainability has
            ensured that these improvements have also had a lasting effect (see 1.1.6 for example). Evidence
            of this is provided from a range of sources including customer and stakeholder feedback.

3.2.9       The latest best value survey results show some of the areas that have improved over the last three
            years which the council impacts upon. These include the council’s priority areas, as well as those
            which are of a lower priority:
                                                              Respondents indicating how service
                              Activity area                     has changed in their local area
                                                              worse      the same         better
               Access to nature                               8.9%         65.4%          9.0%
               Activities for teenagers                       23.9%        35.2%          4.7%
               Affordable decent housing                      39.6%        28.4%          5.8%
                                                         17
            Clean streets                                     31.4%       50.8%%       12.7%%
            Community activities                               9.1%        48.4%         6.6%
            Cultural facilities                                5.7%        59.4%        10.2%
            Facilities for young children                     14.4%        38.3%         9.2%
            Parks and open spaces                             18.3%        60.3%         7.5%
            Public transport                                   27.0         46.8         10.5
            Race relations                                      6.9         41.7         6.7
            Road and pavement repairs                          42.5         39.2         8.9
            Recycling facilities                               4.9%         43.6%       40.2%
            Sports and leisure facilities                      7.6%         35.7%       35.7%
            The level of crime                                 49.0          32.5        3.9
            The level of pollution                             35.0          43.3        2.8
            The level of traffic congestion                    68.5          20.5        2.1
            Waste collection                                   2.1%         55.1%       37.5%
            The way the authority runs things overall         14.6%         48.2%       22.5%


3.2.10 Our best value and local performance indicators, together with feedback from local residents and
       partners, have also helped us to identify areas that require further improvement. These include:
        A safe, clean and pleasant city. Crime figures remain high in comparison to other districts,
         although Gloucester is better compared with other urban centres in this respect. The quality of the
         council’s public conveniences is unacceptably low.
        A healthier city. The percentage of appointments made and kept for responsive housing repairs is
         too low.
        An effective and well-run city council. Sickness remains an issue for the council and our
         response rate in dealing with complaints needs to improve as part of our overall approach to better
         customer care.

3.2.11 The council has clear improvement plans in place for these and other improvement issues that are
       dealt with in more detail in 4.2 and the attached improvement plan. Actions for improvement feature at
       a strategic level in our Corporate Strategy and Best Value Performance Plan and at service level in
       our service development plans. In some areas, such as crime, our potential for direct impact is limited
       by our role as partner rather than organisation with main responsibility.

3.2.12 Customer satisfaction results from the latest best value survey also show where local communities
       and users have recognised improvements made:
                                                              2000 Best Value survey   2003 Best Value survey
            Satisfaction with waste collection
             overall                                                   89%                       92.2%

            Satisfaction with the reliability of waste
             collection                                                92%                       94.5%

            Satisfaction with provision for recycling
             overall                                                   62%                       65.4%

            Satisfaction with sports and leisure
             facilities                                                28%                       47.3%

            Overall satisfaction with the authority
             as a whole                                                51%                       50.9%


 3.3   Investment

 3.3.1 The city council has put in place building blocks in order to secure improvement now and in the future.
        A clear vision has now been developed for Gloucester which is shared by key partners across the
         city. The council’s key aims and strategic priorities directly support the achievement of this vision.



                                                         18
       New political and management structures have been created, strengthening political and
        managerial leadership, strategic capacity and decision-making considerably. The Member
        development programme covers core skills from ICT to project management methodology.
       Partnerships to achieve positive outcomes have become fundamental to the council’s way of
        working. The city council is committed alongside the other 6 district councils in Gloucestershire to
        achieving the targets of the county council’s Public Service Agreement.
       Participation not just consultation has been adopted to ensure improvements to services and
        the city as a whole are in line with local communities’ and users’ needs, as our past achievements
        show. (ref.22)
       Building a sound financial base is central to the council’s financial and asset management
        strategy. The authority’s emerging Medium Term Financial Plan shows how this is being achieved.
       Developing people to improve performance and provide better services to users, linking corporate
        objectives to individuals through the service plan is the focus of our People Plan. The Peer
        challenge was impressed by Gloucester’s management development, specifically the % of trained
        managers. Investment in training in areas such as business process review has already resulted in
        efficiency improvements. Members have full access to in-house training, and have attended the
        Leadership academy.
       Investment in IT is fundamental to the council’s improvement strategy. £828K has been invested
        to date, with the emphasis on improving basic systems across the council, specifically the
        Revenues and Benefits system has produced better information to improve performance. Better
        customer access has also been achieved and, together with improved customer service, will
        continue to be the focus of our £720K investment in 2004/05.
       Developing a performance management culture continues to be one of the council’s key
        strategies. A clear framework has been developed and implemented, including ‘Performance
        Breakthrough’ and project management investment in training and development which is already
        showing rewards. A risk management strategy ensures that investment is well placed.
       Procurement strategy implementation is supported by a corporate manager post established to
        drive improvements (web advice, purchasing plan for SME, partnering and code of practice) and
        achieve targeted (savings) outcomes.
       Good communications internally and externally underpins the whole of the authority’s drive for
        change and improvement. Our Communications and Marketing Strategy shows how we are
        continuing to build on this and contribute to the council’s vision and priorities.

3.3.2 The council has faced some particularly tough challenges in respect of its finances in recent years and
      to ensure it has the necessary resources to invest in services and improvements, it is developing a
      medium term financial plan. This encompasses a broad review of its assets and finances and the
      ways in which these can and are being maximised, whilst relatively low council tax bills are
      maintained. The main elements are:
       Regular review of our assets through our asset management plan has contributed significantly
         towards our capital programme over the last two years, with more to come within the next two
         years.
       Best value reviews, business process reviews and ongoing performance management have been
         used to identify both savings and resources which have been reallocated to service improvements
         elsewhere, for example through reduced sickness levels and identified options for maximising
         investments.
       Borrowing and investment strategies, including an agreement to increase reserves in 2004/05.
       Leverage from the council’s investment in stimulating the establishment of the HURC is already
         likely to bring in up to £1billion according to a Government Minister.
       Leverage from voluntary sector grants brings in funding in a ratio of £6.70 for each £1 of grant.
         Additionally the strength of the voluntary sector affects the success of all local partnerships and
         bids.
       External funding has been successfully obtained for a large number of past and future projects and
         improvements including leisure facilities (£13.25M), e-government (£600K), recycling (£625K) plus
         a share of the latest £1.5M county allocation, and Liveability improvements (£2-3M).
       Successful negotiation of section 106 agreements (to a value in excess of £10 million) continues to
         provide finance for environmental projects including Coney Hill Hospital site and St. Oswald’s Park.
      Underpinning our emerging medium term financial plan is our risk management strategy and a full risk
      assessment of the plan and our future investment proposals.




                                                     19
3.3.3 The council is able to demonstrate a track record of opening itself up and responding to external
      challenge. It is also able to show clear improvements made as a result:
       Corporate peer review. In 2000, the council invited the IDeA peer review team to Gloucester as
        part of the Local Government Improvement Programme. Improvements made were subsequently
        recognised by a follow-up peer review in 2003, and the Peer challenge in March 2004.
       Service peer review. Peers have also been invited in to assess poorly performing service areas
        such as the benefits service in 2003.
       Best value and business process reviews. These involve both external and internal challenge
        processes, through the use of challenge panels for example. Both Audit Commission inspectors
        and the district auditor have commented on improvements made as a result of our last ‘care and
        maintenance’ best value review.
       Learning from best practice. The council uses best practice in a range of different ways
        including: by visiting other places and councils (e.g. in respect of all the new leisure centre and
        community safety beacon council bid); by inviting good practice representatives to visit Gloucester
        (e.g. in connection with strategic partnering), and by networking with other authorities (e.g. Exeter
        group, national communications and tourism benchmarking networks).
       Consultation. Extensive consultation both internally and outside the council takes place each
        year, challenging the authority’s policies and plans, as reflected in its consultation programme.
        Examples include consultation carried out in respect of its corporate strategy in autumn 2003,
        which was amended as a result, and the annual budget consultation exercise, which involves
        senior officers and members in face-to-face consultation in city shopping centres.
       Partnerships and forums. The Gloucester Partnership, Tenants Forum, and Race equality forum,
        disability equality forum, Environment and Ecology Forum are examples of mechanisms through
        which local communities challenge the council. Use is also made occasionally of the county
        council’s citizens’ panel (Gloucester residents).
       External inspection, accreditation, audits and awards. As indicated in 3.1, the council opens
        itself up to challenge every year through the various chartermarks, quality awards and other
        inspections it actively seeks out. It has also volunteered to be a pilot for assessment, such as the
        Decent Homes Diagnostic for the District Council CPA. It has been responsible for Gloucestershire
        electronic partnership seeking membership of the Institute of customer service.
       The scrutiny process. Although seen as best practice, the council has invested in continuous
        improvement of the scrutiny function, recognising that no council has yet achieved excellence in
        this area. Within the council, the scrutiny committees challenge all major policies, projects and
        performance.

3.3.4 Investments relating to each of our strategic priorities we have achieved:
         Achieving good standards of cleanliness - resources have been focused on areas of greatest
          need, and doubled for one locality. Investment in City Rangers is bringing improvements in city
          centre cleanliness.
         Minimising waste and increasing recycling - £1.8M has been invested over 4 years,
          augmented by successful DEFRA bids of £830K.
         Reducing crime and the fear of crime - £200k has been invested in the new Ranger service.
         Promoting regeneration - the city council’s input of £125,000 per year levers a further £625,000
          from other agencies to fund an Urban Regeneration Company. By itself, the council would not
          have the means to fund all of the regeneration projects.
         Delivering decent homes - the council agreed to raise an additional £1m through prudential
          borrowing and allocate all RTB capital receipts to help meet the Decent Homes standard.
         Achieving good public health - the council is working with the Community Counts
          Neighbourhood Partnership to fund research and employ extra environmental health staff to tackle
          problems associated with poor quality rented accommodation.
         Achieving good open spaces - the city council has successfully used powers under Section 106
          of the Planning Act to secure major investment in new and improved open spaces. In the last four
          years, completed agreements make provision for 113 acres of new parks and open spaces and
          £831,000 for associated works and maintenance. The council has been so successful in
          attracting Section 106 funding that it is preparing the business case for establishing a specific
          post.
         Providing good customer services - the city council’s strong support to GEP and willingness to
          pilot the LGOL project on behalf of partners has achieved full contact centre technology and
          project support to very significantly improve first point service to our customers.




                                                     20
4.    In the light of what the council has learned to date, what does it plan to do next?

4.1   Learning

4.1.1 The council has a good understanding of what it has achieved and the problems it still faces. The
      authority maintains this self-awareness through a wide range of means identified above. It has
      ensured that problems are scrutinised, lessons identified and applied to improve performance. Of
      particular note is the scrutiny of the Blackfriars development, subsequent Audit commission review
      and implementation of PRINCE2 project management, described as very good progress. Other areas
      of note are ‘e’ learning, quoted by IDeA as best practice, management development programme,
      members access to in house training, the member induction programme and the members ICT
      development group, members attendance at the Leadership academy, and lessons learnt and applied
      from the Peer Challenge include:
       Sharing best practice and learning across the council and celebrating success, demonstrated in
          part by the ‘We’re proud of’ campaign now presented as best practice on the national
          benchmarking club.
       Clear position statement on our vision for economic development of the city within the region,
          which is described and will be implemented via strategies agreed with key partners.
       Refinements to the members development programme and initiation of a members ICT reference
          group.
       Improved performance focus on SMART targets and outcomes.

4.1.2 The council has been able to identify and build on its corporate and strategic strengths and successes
      in areas including partnership working, human resources, financial management, new political
      arrangements, community development, social inclusion and regeneration, media relations, strategic
      planning, protection of the environment, sustainability and balancing housing markets.

4.1.3 However, we have also identified a number of areas that still require improvement. Some of these
      have been tackled, whilst others are part of our longer-term plans.

4.1.4 The council is able to show how it has learned from both successes and failures and used its
      experiences to make changes and improve services. Examples include:
          A safe, clean and pleasant city
           To reduce flytipping, we piloted special bulky item collection events in 2003. These have proved
           beneficial to local communities, reducing the dumping of large items and are now an important
           part of our bulky items collection service. This alteration to service delivery has meant both staff
           working arrangements and our approach to customer service have had to change.
          A prosperous, modern city which values its history
           The council has made significant changes to its approach to regeneration following an in-depth
           review of the Blackfriars redevelopment scheme. As a result, a more robust approach to project
           management has been introduced across the authority and the new Heritage Urban
           Regeneration Company is shortly to be launched. This has already attracted £750,000 of
           partnership (revenue) funding to help facilitate future development in the city and is expected to
           draw millions of pounds into the city in capital funding. The transition from hands-on driver to
           arms-length partner has raised some complex issues for the authority, but a clear determination
           to see the URC succeed has ensured that any potential barriers have been overcome.
          A city which involves people and communities
           The council launches a shared City and county council contact centre in June 2004, which builds
           on the success of the Environmental Services service centre and incorporates the housing
           ‘Repairs Direct’, property services call centre and all core county services. Significant
           development went into this project, and barriers of a political nature, as well as those relating to
           staffing, have had to be addressed.
          An effective and well-run city council
           In May 2002, the council piloted postal voting ‘on demand without using declarations of identity’ in
           the 3 wards of the city with the lowest turnout. Problems of potential misuse of the system and
           guidance to voters had to be addressed. The pilot was considered a success as voter turnout
           increased by 4.2%, 4.7% and 8.4% in the 3 wards concerned.




                                                     21
4.1.5 We are also able to demonstrate how we have learned from others including councils, voluntary,
      public and private sector organisations:

          A safe, clean and pleasant city
           The council has learned extensively from public and private sector organisations about how
           partnerships between these two sectors can help improve performance and services. Most
           recently, it has gained an invaluable insight into strategic partnering through Herefordshire
           County Council and has used this knowledge to inform the exploration of a strategic partnership
           for its own care and maintenance of the city services.

          A city that offers leisure opportunity for all
           To ensure the authority provides the most efficient and effective leisure facilities that meet
           customer needs, the council made visits to facilities operated by a wide range of providers when
           developing the GL1 leisure centre. This information has been used to help reach major decisions
           on matters such as IT systems, activities programmes and the best overall means of providing
           the service (i.e. in-house, trust, private sector etc.).

          A healthier city
           Recognising the need to improve the performance of the council’s benefits processing service,
           the council worked with high-performing Sedgemoor District Council last year, in particular to
           identify ways of speeding up the processing of new claims. As a result, speed of processing
           improved from 70-36 days.

          An effective and well run City council
           Contact centre staff visited other local authorities and many staff exploited national e government
           projects. The GEP secured the assistance of GCHQ in designing a secure data network.

4.1.6 Internally, all staff are encouraged to try out new ideas, develop and implement improvements within
      their own service areas. Good practice is shared across the council through specific Best Practice
      Briefings, Corporate Management Team briefings, the In-House magazine and intranet, for example,
      and we are looking at ways we can improve this further.

4.1.7 Conferences are another way in which the authority shares good practice inside and outside the
      organisation. In November 2003, the council’s national conference on the problem enabled attendees
      from all over the country to learn about the latest techniques for dealing with gull problems
      internationally and to share information, experience and innovative ideas.

4.1.8 The Policy and Communications Unit plays a key role in gathering, analysing and disseminating good
      practice and learning across the council. Corporate guidance notes and ‘toolkits’ are provided on a
      range of themes, from Best Value Reviews to Service Development Planning. Guidance documents
      such as the Consultation and Participation Manual, Project Management guidance, Procurement
      guidance, Complaints policy and Personnel Manual are also provided by others across the
      organisation.

4.1.9 A range of pilot schemes are tested out each year. Suggestions made by staff through the staff
      suggestion scheme and other forums have also resulted in various initiatives been implemented, from
      improvements to flood tackling procedures to the introduction of water dispensers in council buildings.

4.2   Future plans

4.2.1 The council’s vision and key aims encapsulated within its family of corporate strategy community
      strategy, and core service strategies provide the starting point for all of its plans and strategies for the
      future. The authority’s corporate and service planning processes clearly show how learning feeds into
      our future plans and all strategies are required to have action plans with clear milestones and targets
      for the long and short-term.

4.2.2 Through ongoing performance monitoring and our joint officer/executive end of year review of
      achievements and service development plans (reflected in our best value performance plan), we are
      able to maintain a clear and cross-cutting understanding of what the council has achieved and what it
      still needs to improve. These remaining areas for improvement are then taken forwards through the
      corporate strategy, future best value plans and service plans. The former reflect the relative
      importance and prioritisation of further improvements, whilst the latter feature action plans showing
      how the improvements will be made on the ground.

                                                       22
4.2.3 The Government Office for the South West described our Housing Strategy as the best in the
      southwest and our Asset Management Plan was also rated “good”. The council’s 2003/04 Best Value
      Performance Plan received an ”unqualified” audit from the local auditor and was described as
      ‘comprehensive, well-designed, readable and informative’.

4.2.4 Where we have identified areas of weakness or lower levels of achievement than anticipated, we are
      tackling on these, on a priority basis, as reflected in our current plans:
       Members are currently looking at ways of improving the council’s political arrangements, in
        particular the scrutiny function and cabinet meetings. (ref.23)
       Our developing CRM is providing customer intelligence to shape service development to better
        meet customer needs and expectations. (ref.24)
       Having improved our speed of processing benefits claims, we have turned our attention to
        improving other aspects of our benefits service such as accuracy of calculation. (ref.25)
       We have taken action to reduce sickness by introducing revised policies and a new strategy, and
        set up a unique joint Cabinet/ Scrutiny working group to address the issue but recognise that
        further action will be needed in this area. (ref.26)
       We have improved the collection, accuracy and reporting of our performance information and are
        now taking steps to ensure this information is more consistently and effectively used across the
        organisation. (ref.27)
       Having significantly improved the information we hold in respect of our housing stock, we have
        developed options for the future management of the council’s housing, in order to meet the decent
        homes standard. (ref.28)
       Following our best value review, we are preparing a business case for creating a strategic
        partnership for care and maintenance of the city. (ref.29)

4.2.5 The council uses a wide range of means to successfully engage staff, partners and local communities
      in planning for the future:

      Staff and Unions
      Staff are involved in future planning through service development planning, best value and business
      process reviews which involve a broad spectrum of staff operating at different levels. Employee
      Forum, staff focus groups, surveys, regular briefings and specific consultation programmes such as
      the all-staff corporate strategy/CPA sessions held towards the end of last year, are other means by
      which staff take part in future planning throughout the year. The unions are also invited to take part in
      best value reviews and planning for major initiatives such as the strategic partnership for care and
      maintenance of the city services. They are formally consulted on a regular basis through the council’s
      reporting process and Employee Forum and informally through meetings with members of the senior
      management team.

      Partners
      Partners are involved in future planning through the Gloucester Partnership, HURC, GEP and other
      local authority partnerships. Key partners are part of the corporate planning process and feed into the
      council’s corporate strategy. They participate in best value reviews and options appraisal exercises
      (for example in respect of care and maintenance of the city services), comment on future policy and
      strategy development, and are consulted on major development schemes. Regular meetings between
      council representatives and organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses, Chamber of
      Trade, Major Employers’ Organisation and a wide range of community-based organisations enable
      this to happen.

      Communities
      Local communities take part in planning for the future through ‘planning for real’ exercise and
      community-based audits and surveys such as those undertaken in respect of the Westgate renewal
      area. Neighbourhood partnerships and the neighbourhood management scheme provide useful
      mechanisms through which communities can contribute to future planning on a semi-formal basis.
      Residents are consulted on specific issues such as the Local Plan and development schemes in the
      city – from proposed improvements to streetscapes, to major retail developments such as Blackfriars
      and King’s Square. Consultation undertaken in connection with our Outdoor playground and youth
      facilities strategy is recognised as a model of good practice. We have made increasing use of our
      website and i-plus kiosks to obtain public views on a range of future plans and strategies, including the
      community strategy, corporate strategy and best value performance plan.




                                                     23
4.2.6 Ensuring the council has the capacity to identify, implement and maintain further improvements is
      something members and senior managers have taken on board. A number of measures are being put
      in place to enable this to happen:
       Corporate focus on the vision for Gloucester and on a clear set of limited priorities provides the
        framework for future capacity and improvement planning.
       Review of political and officer management arrangements on a periodic basis to ensure appropriate
        capacity exists.
       Training and development of members to provide them with the right skills in identifying capacity
        issues and performance monitoring, for example.
       Capacity building through partnership development, workforce planning and joint working (as
        outlined in 2.1).
       Training and development of managers in key management competencies; in planning, people and
        resource management; in understanding of corporate priorities and change management.
       Best value, corporate planning and service development processes are reviewed to ensure they
        adequately identify capacity and implementation issues.
       Longer term financial planning is being introduced to ensure our future plans are sustainable.
       Continuing improvements to e-government and performance management systems are enabling us
        to identify and track capacity issues and improvement plans.

4.2.7 The council’s future plans and priorities are regularly reviewed against changing local and national
      priorities:
       Progress against the community strategy is regularly reviewed by the Gloucester partnership and
        the action plan will next be subject to re-assessment in 2004/05.
       The council’s 5-year corporate strategy incorporating its key aims and strategic priorities is
        reviewed annually by members and senior managers.
       The annual review of the authority’s best value performance plan ensures priorities at portfolio level
        are re-examined.
       The council’s service development planning process provides an annual review of service level
        issues across all service areas and an opportunity for these to feed back up into the corporate
        planning process.
       All other strategies and plans produced by the authority are required to have a built-in process for
        review.
       Strategies and plans that the council plays a partnership role in developing, such as the Crime and
        Disorder Reduction Strategy, are also subject to periodic review.




                                                     24
                                       Gloucester City Council
                               Comprehensive Performance Assessment
                                Self-scoring on corporate assessment

     Theme         Score                     Key strengths                                Key weaknesses

Ambition             4          Tangible and robust ambition in strategies         Tendency to be over-ambitious
                                Council priorities understood by councillors        not fully resolved
                                 and staff
                                Council engaged with community/ key
                                 partners and stakeholders and hard to
                                 reach groups
                                Council is widely recognised and
                                 respected for its community leadership role
                                Action taken to focus on what matters to
                                 customers, and to reduce priorities from 26
                                 to 8

Prioritisation       3          Priorities reflect ambition                        Some strategies are still in
                                Priorities based on needs and concerns of           early stages
                                 local people balanced with national                Full implications for ‘non priority
                                 priorities                                          services not fully worked
                                Effective use of consultation                       through
                                Well communicated via briefings, web,
                                 posters, leaflets and newsletters
                                Clear identification of priority and non
                                 priority services in Service Development
                                 Plans
                                Improved priority setting process to identify
                                 clear corporate aims and priorities
                                Council has moved resources to match
                                 priorities

Focus                3          Proven ability to stay focused on                  Operational risk management is
                                 regeneration of the city over years                 in early stages
                                Focus on what matters to people                    Calendar plans not yet
                                 maintained via forward plan, Cabinet,               published
                                 CMT, Scrutiny
                                Effective management process to maintain
                                 focus
                                Performance information is based on a
                                 hierarchy of PIs providing focus at
                                 appropriate levels
                                BV Reviews used to maintain focus
                                All major projects follow prince 2
                                Strategic and operational risk management
                                 registers created

Capacity             2          Strong, constructive councillor and officer        Financial capacity is currently
                                 relationship                                        low
                                Sound financial management process                 Sickness absence has not yet
                                Decision making and executive function,             reduced
                                 and continuous improvement in scrutiny             Scrutiny function can be
                                 function                                            optimised
                                Track record of partnership                        Procurement strategy is only
                                HR People Plan addressing workforce                 just starting to yield outcomes
                                 issues
Key scoring:

4 = Strong
3 = Strengths outweigh weaknesses
2 = Weaknesses outweigh strengths
1 = Weak                                              25
    Theme        Score                  Key strengths                             Key weaknesses

Performance        3        Clear corporate ambitions/priorities           Use of intelligence from
management                   underpin strong corporate and service           complaints monitoring only
                             planning framework                              recently used in planning
                            Robust performance monitoring which can        VFM not systematically
                             identify areas of poor performance, and         undertaken
                             action taken to turn around
                            Service plans presented consistently, and
                             co-ordinated to be corporate and cross
                             cutting
                            Good record of financial management of
                             difficult situations
                            Good clear presentation for stakeholders
                             and management

Achievement in     2        Service and corporate standards produced       Relatively low level of
quality of                   and published                                   satisfaction with council
service                     Risk management strategy and risk               services
                             registers created
                            69 % of PI s met or exceeded targets
                            BFI assessment fair to good
                            Good performance in many services
                            Customer satisfaction levels held in BV
                             survey (against national downward trend)
                            Wide range of external
                             endorsements/accreditations
                            Plans to meet Decent Homes
                            Sharper management

Achievement of     3        61 % of BVPI targets met or exceeded           Some poor performance in
improvement                 Approach taken to improvement has               BVPIs
                             ensured sustainability
                            Improvement linked to priorities-evidence
                             of 18 priority service indicators)
                            Very strong Section 106 performance
                            Positive Audit reports on project
                             management, risk management, e-
                             government, People and Performance
                             management and Partnership
                            Key regeneration projects achieved
                            General fund capital debt reduced by
                             £3million (25%) following land sale
                            Average SAP energy efficiency
                             improvement
                            BV64 significant improvement
                            Speed of processing benefits improvement




                                                26
    Theme      Score                  Key strengths                               Key weaknesses

Investment       3        Medium term financial plan developed             Financial position still resolving
                          Successful funding bids                           the impact of the past
                          Asset management plan developed
                          Section 106 has brought investment
                          People Plan in place, comprehensive
                           management development programmes
                           operating, and e-learning published as
                           best practice by IDeA Strong partnerships
                           demonstrating outcomes for local people
                          Investment made in a range of
                           Performance Breakthrough building blocks
                          Good internal and external challenge
                          Extensive external funding attracted

Learning         4        Good self awareness                              Low resource commitment
                          Response to external feedback                    Member engagement in training
                          Use of benchmarking clubs                         is low
                          Open leadership and management
                          Sharing learning internally- corporate work
                           groups and ‘we’re proud of campaign
                           shared on national benchmarking club
                          Hosting national conferences (e.g. Gull
                           problem)
                          Learning from mistakes- see case study on
                           project management)
                          Use of pilot schemes to test out ideas for
                           improvement
                          Alternative organisational structure and
                           means of service delivery are explored
                           (strategic partnership)
                          Cabinet agreed to increase reserves

Future plans     4        Community, corporate and service strategy        Council has yet to fully resolve
                           in place covering ambitions for the area          the impact of future plans and
                           and underpinning service and portfolio            resource allocation
                           planning
                          Robust plans in place e.g. IEG, People
                           plan, Local Plan
                          ALMO developing
                          Strategic Partnership business case
                           developing
                          Quality of plans and strategies is high-
                           housing strategy
                          Staff and stakeholders are engaged in
                           planning




                                               27
                                                           Gloucester City Council
                                      Comprehensive Performance Assessment - High Level Improvement Plan

 Key outcomes                                          High level actions                                               Corporate strategy + self-assessment links

1. Improved focus      Continue to use existing and new communications channels to improve sharing of         An effective and well run city council. S-A ref. 1.1.5 (p6)
   on delivery of       achievement and good practice inside and outside the council.
   strategic           Deliver ‘streetscene’ improvements through a range of partnership initiatives.         A safe, clean and pleasant city. S-A ref. xxxi (p7)
   (service) and       Progress major city centre developments through new Urban Regeneration                 A prosperous, modern city that values its history. S-A ref. ix (p2)
   organisational       Company.
   priorities          Progress redevelopment of Gloucester Park                                              A city that offers leisure opportunity for all. S-A ref. xvi (p3)
                       Deliver the decent homes standard for council stock.                                   A healthier city. S-A refs. x (p2) + 4.2.4 (p23)
                       Develop and implement a neighbourhood strategy.                                        A city which involves people and communities. S-A ref. 2.1.9
                                                                                                               (p10)
                       Increase our understanding of customer requirements to deliver what customers          An effective and well run city council. S-A ref. 3.3.1 (p19)
                        want
                       Improve efficiency and effectiveness of responsive and customer service to tenants     An effective and well run city council. S-A ref. 1.1.9 (p7)
                        via the contact centre
                       Continue to work with partners to reduce crime and the fear of crime                   A safe, clean and pleasant city. S-A ref. xvii (p3)

2. Improved            Continue to identify and exploit opportunities to achieve ambitions by partnership     An effective and well run city council. S-A ref. 1.2.7 (p8)
   capacity             working.
                       Roll out the People Plan, including taking action to reduce levels of sickness         An effective and well run city council. S-A refs. 2.1.2 + 2.1.3
                        absence.                                                                               (p9)
                       Improve procurement practice across the council.                                       An effective and well run city council. S-A ref. 2.1.2 (p9)
                       Establish strategic partnership (or best alternative) for care and maintenance         An effective and well run city council. S-A ref. 4.2.4 (p23)
                        services.
                       Review and improve scrutiny function and decision making processes.                    An effective and well run city council. S-A refs. xxi (p4) + 2.1.7
                                                                                                               (p10)
                       Increase effectiveness of member training and take up of training opportunities.       An effective and well run city council. S-A ref 2.1.10 (p10)

3. Improved            Achieve performance improvement and capacity by modernising the council’s              An effective and well run city council. S-A refs. xxxiii (p5) +
   performance          business processes, including Priority outcomes for e-government.                      3.3.3 (p20)
                       Focus on improving all BVPIs out of bottom quartile and achieving upper quartiles in   An effective and well run city council. S-A refs. 2.2.1 + 2.2.2
                        priority areas.                                                                        (p11)
                       Further improve risk management across the council.                                    An effective and well run city council. S-A ref. 2.2.4 (p11)




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