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Independent review praises leadership and vision of South Cambridgeshire District Council

By Ben Comber

Council urged to take a more prominent role in shaping the future growth of South Cambridgeshire.

The peer review team consisted of:

- Ian Davidson, Chief Executive, Tendring District Council

- Cllr John Cotton, Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council

- Lindsey Barker, Deputy Chief Executive, Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils

- Brendan Cleere, Growth Director, Taunton Deane Borough and West Somerset Councils

- Naomi Lynch, NGDP Graduate, Birmingham City Council

- Andrew Winfield, Peer Challenge Manager, Local Government Association

Leading councilors and senior Council officers from authorities across the country have given South Cambridgeshire District Council a glowing report on its performance after a four-day independent review.

The peer review team from the Local Government Association considered areas of work ranging from leadership of place and organisation to financial planning and capacity to deliver on priorities for local communities.

Some key areas of praise for the council included how it has clear direction and strong political and managerial leadership, with focused plans in place to deliver its objectives, which are based on a good understanding of the needs of the area.

Cllr Peter Topping, leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “I am really pleased how positive the feedback has been from this review. The team was given free rein to delve into how we function and see what works well and where opportunities to improve lie.

“I was determined to get an independent validation that our approach is sound and how we are working together to make sure we meet the needs of local communities. Given the pace of change and the scale of economic growth in South Cambridgeshire, we as a council need to be at the vanguard of engaging with and listening to residents to ensure understanding and support. This review gives us useful and helpful insights into how to achieve that.

“The important thing now is to use the opportunities identified in the team’s feedback to develop an action plan for the future. As the team has said, this is a pivotal moment for the area and we are determined to rise to the challenge.”

The council invited the Local Government Association to carry out a peer review to help get an independent check on their performance.

Some areas identified as ‘opportunities’ included how the council can play an even more prominent role in shaping the area’s future growth, continue to innovate and find new ways to generate income to help offset cuts to funding and make sure strategic level discussions take place on future joint working options with Cambridge City Council.

The peer review also identified opportunities for the council over the next 12 to 24 months and councilors agreed today that an action plan will now be developed to see how the organisation can use these to continue to improve.


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