Chippenham Town Council embraces the challenge of a Peer Review!

20th September 2019 / News archive

Chippenham Town Council embraces the challenge of a Peer Review!

Chippenham Town Council led the process to be the first council to take part in a corporate peer challenge in a town or parish council.
The Local Government Association (LGA) offers a corporate peer challenge to principle councils on a five year rolling cycle.

The challenge process provides a robust and effective improvement tool managed and delivered by the sector, for the sector. The LGA and National Association of Local Councils (NALC) are piloting this initiative with 2 Town and Parish Councils during 2018/19 to assess and validate its appropriateness for the sector as part of the LGAs wider SLI offer.

The Peer Challenge team (David Ashlee, Town Clerk and Chief Executive, Dunstable Town Council, Harvey Siggs former leader at Mendip District Council, Charlotte Eisenhart, Head of Member Services at NALC and Paul Clarke, Peer Challenge Manager at LGA) met with a selection of councillors, staff and external strategic partners to examine the ways in which the council works by looking at processes and infrastructure.

The three key areas for review were the council’s leadership role for Chippenham, its resources and financial capability, and its governance arrangements and overall capacity. The review team reported their initial positive findings to councillors and staff at the end of day 2, and a full written report will be produced in the next few weeks.

Mark Smith, Chief executive Chippenham Town Council:
“It was a privilege to break new ground for the sector, we were delighted to take part this pilot Peer Review as we recognise the value in sector led improvement. The learning gained from the process is two-way with the review team so it has beneficial for all. The feedback will be invaluable in contributing to our future ambitions and also helping to shape the process for other town councils who choose to participate”.

Cllr. Sandie Webb, Leader of Chippenham Town Council:
“Participation in the pilot Peer Review demanded a considerable amount of dedication by officers, staff and councillors alongside their busy day to day activities. The two-day review demonstrated that throughout the council there is a pride in the work delivered to ensure quality within our community.
The review team said Chippenham Town Council are in the ‘Premier League’ of Town Councils with a superb team of staff, councillors and strategic partners and while their feedback was also challenging in parts, it was invaluable in contributing to our future ambitions.”

Cllr Sue Baxter, Chairman of NALC, said: “Undertaking the peer review at Chippenham Town Council has confirmed our commitment to this intervention for the largest town councils. We are showing that our largest councils are rising to the challenge of devolution by not only taking on new services but opening themselves to scrutiny. It is a testimony to how the sector is evolving that we can embrace the sector-led improvement approach developed by the LGA and bring it to our local councils.”

David Ashlee, Town Clerk & Chief Executive, Dunstable Town Council said of the event; “To be part of the first peer review for the town and parish sector of local government was a fascinating experience. Chippenham Town Council is a good Council delivering a high standard of quality of life services for the residents of Chippenham. The Council is certainly moving in the right direction and I wish them every success for the future.”