Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames

03/14/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 03/14/2019 03:03

Outcome of our LGA Corporate Peer Challenge

To support our transformation and to learn from best practice, the council asked the Local Government Association (LGA) to conduct a Corporate Peer Challenge of our strengths and areas for improvement

These included our understanding of the local place and priority setting, leadership of place, financial planning and viability, organisational leadership and governance, and capacity to deliver.

The LGA peer challenge team led by Andy Donald, Chief Executive, London Borough of Redbridge, was on site at the council offices in January 2019 to carry out the assessment. It is important to highlight that this review was not a formal inspection. They are designed to complement and add value to a council's own performance and improvement. The team used their experience and knowledge of local government to reflect on the information presented to them by the people they met, things they saw and material that they read.

Overwhelmingly, the peer challenge team were struck by the potential and opportunity that exists for the council, both as an organisation and as a leader of place; 'The council has much to call upon to drive things forward, including a committed and talented workforce, a passionate elected membership and the goodwill of partners. The prospect of harnessing all of this and uniting it behind fulfilling the potential and the opportunity means that these are very exciting times for Kingston'

Some of the key recommendations in the report are for the council to :

  • Capitalise upon the opportunity as an organisation and a leader of place, involving establishing a clear vision and sense of purpose
  • Seize the place leadership through building relationships with partners
  • Establish a single, shared understanding about the scale of the financial challenge being faced and mechanisms that provide real grip and rigour around the delivery of savings and budget spend
  • Bring about greatly improved communication across the council
  • Establish greater collective leadership of corporate and strategic issues
  • Determine what community engagement means in Kingston and the approaches to be adopted
  • Continue the review of the council's Constitution and governance arrangements
  • Conclude the organisational restructure in as timely a fashion as possible
  • Prioritise/sequence the corporate system and process changes that the council recognises are needed and then inject pace and rigour at each stage.

Leader of the Council, Liz Green, says

'Even before the election we knew Kingston had severe challenges, not least with the financial position facing us. I have always recognised the importance of external review - holding up a mirror on what we do well and what we need to improve. The LGA peer challenge does that, and I am delighted they found RBK full of potential and opportunity.

'We understand the challenges we face and will continue to meet these. The last 10 months have been about consolidation of our financial position, senior officer roles and relationships with partners; resetting our dedication to the community; and rebuilding trust. We are now in a position to move forward and this report will help us shape how we deliver for our communities, together.'

Ian Thomas, Chief Executive Officer, says:

'The report findings and recommendations are generally a fair reflection of the council's current position and are very helpful for our transformation journey. I am delighted that the LGA peer team have seen and assessed that there are huge opportunities and potential for Kingston right now.

'We are building a solid foundation for the future by focusing on developing the right capacity and capability within the organisation, enhancing both financial stability and sustainable growth. '

The council will now be considering the report recommendations, preparing our response and an action plan to implement the improvements and changes required to achieve our high aspirations for the borough'

We would like to thank the LGA peer challenge team for their time and expertise and also to thank all the council staff, councillors, local strategic partners and residents that assisted with the review either answering questionnaires or attending focus groups to comment on the council's performance.

The full report can be found here.