Report Hails Strong And Visible Leadership At Council

town hall 11Council Chairman Amanda Martin and Chief Executive Theo Leijser are both offering “strong and visible leadership” at the Town Hall. And since they’ve been in charge the positive culture within the authority is “tangible.”

That’s according to a report written by local authority experts who visited Scilly at the end of September.

The consultants’ trip was arranged by the Local Government Association and the party included senior officers and members from councils in Swindon, Havering, Poole and the City of London.

They reviewed documents and interviewed around fifty council employees and members to compile their ‘peer challenge.’

It states that both Cllr Martin and Mr Leijser command “high levels of respect” from staff.

But it’s not all good news. There’s a cash crisis coming.

Based on future projections from the LGA, by 2019 Scilly Council’s income will only meet 62% of the authority’s outgoings. The average forecast for English unitary authorities is 85%.

The Council’s finance arrangements are a concern and have “significant areas for improvement.”

The report also says the Council needs to develop a meaningful medium-term financial strategy.

The assessors felt there hadn’t been much explanation of how savings will be made following Council restructuring, beyond the staff cost reduction and there wasn’t much detail on how the reorganisation of the authority would achieve growth.

Not all staff are too clear on the changes either. They are, “hungry for clarity about the future and their role in it.”

The reviewers accept that external money is needed to deliver schemes in our small authority but after learning about the airport overspend, the LGA group warns that the Council needs to strengthen its approach to capital investment.

And the Town Hall’s “savings” have been depleted. Council reserves are down to around £800,000 and that’s edging closer to their minimum level of £600,000.

Overall, the visitors found that the Council has a new “sense of energy” and purpose.

They also say that relationships between officers and councillors are based on a mutual understanding about respective roles and merits.

And their report says that councillor-officer dynamics have improved, although that appears to contradict last month’s Cornwall Council report, which highlighted difficult relations between some officers and members after a senior staff member lodged a complaint against former councillor Adrian Davis.

There was no case to answer by Dr Davis but the Council will have a staff member and senior councillor meet to discuss the working relationship.

The peer review team observed that housing and connections to the mainland were issues for the Council and these points are being addressed in the Town Hall’s new corporate plan. But they felt it hadn’t been widely communicated to staff or locals.

The LGA group has offered to consult the Council and help devise a more “sophisticated” strategy for getting Town Hall messages out to locals. They also offered their services in sorting out some IT and finance issues.

Senior members as well as Town Hall management should “invest in themselves” and take time to devise strategy, which the consultants say is as essential as managing day-to-day services.

They also recommend that councillors take greater ownership of projects being delivered by their committees and that they should drop the term ‘Chairman,’ which suggests that the role only requires chairing meetings, and replace it with ‘Leader.’

And there should be a set of indicators to gauge how the Council is doing, including the number of complaints, staff absences and the number of Freedom of Information requests.

Councillors were not able to comment on or debate the peer report. It was presented in the Full Council meeting “for information only.”

11 Responses to Report Hails Strong And Visible Leadership At Council

  1. fran grottick December 24, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Pete, I am happy to explain my use of the word “assume”. Full Council was on December 8th and I left for a few days away the following day, returning late on the 14th.
    I have not yet been able to find out when further discussion of this report might take place
    hence I could only assume it will.
    Feel free to contact me after the holiday and I will give you an update.
    I am always happy to be contacted,
    Regards Fran 422424

  2. fran grottick December 16, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    I assume that Councillors have been given a link to the report so that they can study it in depth

    later. The Full Council agenda was quite packed. I anticipate that the report will have discussion time, hopefully in public as soon as possible.
    A lot of time and effort has gone into this report, I am sure, and certainly hope, that it will be given the consideration it deserves.
    Christmas wishes Fran

    • Pete December 23, 2015 at 3:48 pm

      Fran your a councillor, and you only “assume” that other councillors have been given a link to the report?

  3. Fred Up December 15, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    No one asked the staff I know who work for the Council what their opinion is of the management both elected and paid; if the employees had been approached the answers wouldn’t reflect what the LGA have concocted.

  4. Tim, Beirut December 15, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    Sounds like a right nightmare where you live, hope you sort it out.

  5. Colin P Ridsdale December 15, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    I do not know who Ian T is but I am afraid he has summed up the situation with our governance, and it’s what I think the whole senior members of the executive have been aiming for since the new Chief Executive was put in place (I expect commissioned to do just that, from Whitehall). Close down the very expensive government on the Islands and hand it over to Cornwall
    Not a nice thought but one that I think we have to face up to as a community, the future will look very different I think. I feel very sad for the younger members of the island’s family,it’s them who will have to revue their options.I am well over the half way line and have had the very best times; it’s hard to except the thought of change though.

  6. Ian T. December 15, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Many of the subjects of ‘Scillt today’ clearly demonstrate that, because of the miniscule population of the islands, it is impossible to recruit people of the right calibre and experience to run a unitary authority nor to pay them sufficient wages or provide them with decent homes to live in.

    It is time for the islanders to realise that this situation cannot continue in the 21st century and petition to be be included as part of the Cornwall Council. I know that they are not exactly the best run authority either but….

    • Adam Morton, St.Martins December 15, 2015 at 4:29 pm

      Excuse me but at last count there was 1/2 a million in wages for Council officers starting with a CEO on £100.000. This is in an area where the average wage is a mere £13.600 , Its not like we need Red Adair! The Council has scores of advisors and consultants in doing dozens of surveys and reports most of which are ignored . No ,I think you will find its a portion of the population who really don’t see why their miniscule wages should be contributing to comparatively generous salaries of people who treat them with utter contempt in the manner they handle supposed democracy!

  7. Pete December 15, 2015 at 11:55 am

    The last line tells it all.

  8. Uriah Heep December 15, 2015 at 11:14 am

    Ah! the LGA, need one say more.
    Consultants of choice for the last two chairmen.

  9. Jonny Exile December 15, 2015 at 10:11 am

    One group of tax and spend fanatics rating another: where’s the credibility in that?