Peer Review

The council commissioned a Peer Review in March 2014, in association with the Local Government Association. The Review Team consisted of councillors and senior officers from other councils who visited the council between 11-13 March and the review focused on:

  •       understanding the local context and priority setting
  •       financial planning
  •       political and managerial leadership
  •       governance and decision making
  •       organisational capacity

For Thanet, there was also be a particular focus on Economic Development and the council’s customer services approach, as these are priority areas for the council.

The council has now received the detailed report from the LGA which sets out their findings and recommendations.

The council would like to thank everyone who took part in the review and will now be working on an action plan to take forward the LGA’s recommendations.

A dedicated board has been convened to drive forward improvements in the council.

The Terms of Reference for this board are as follows: 

Objective of Board

To assist, support and challenge the council in achieving desired improvements. Particular regard will be made to the findings arising from the Peer Review.

Terms of Reference

The Board will be voluntary, set up by the council with external and internal participants. It will be a local government, sector-led initiative.

The Board will work with the council to provide support and challenge through external advice and experience to validate the work Thanet District Council is undertaking to respond to the Corporate Peer Challenge of March 2014 and associated issues.

In the main the Board will:-

  • Provide support and guidance
  • Identify and signpost appropriate good practice
  • Provide challenge and act as a critical friend
  • Ensure that contributions from different external agencies/bodies to the improvement journey are coordinated
  • Monitor the improvement plan to ensure that it can be clearly understood and communicated internally and externally
  • Inform decisions which impact on political and managerial leadership arrangements, corporate governance and improvement in advance of them going through Thanet’s own decision-making structures, e.g. Cabinet or Council.

It is not intended that the Board will be burdensome, but to help provide focus, advice and challenge.

It will act as a “critical friend” on the adequacy of the council’s Improvement Plans, and progress by monitoring the speed, nature and impact of improvement. 

The Board will be a useful barometer through which the council can assess its progress.

Unlike more formal types of intervention, the Board will not be reporting back to the Government. It will utilise contacts including the LGA to provide support.

The Board will consider its lifespan and remit at appropriate points and provide a timetable for completion – initially for review after six months.

Benefits of an Improvement/External Challenge Board

 

  • More-rounded consideration and assessment of strengths and weaknesses of the Council
  • Greater agreement, focus and ownership of the actions that need to be undertaken to achieve improvement – a realistic and achievable programme for improvement
  • Regular monitoring of improvement successes
  • Greater opportunity to persuade external regulators and stakeholders that the council is taking appropriate steps to look after its own health, capacity and performance

 

Status and nature of meetings

Meetings of the board are informal and are not decision making. Meetings will initially take place monthly.

Board members will be able to request any appropriate information to help them carry out their role effectively.

Notes of the meetings will be produced by the council for the benefit of Board members. 

In addition a note will be issued after each meeting highlighting key messages from the discussions, as a means of keeping staff and the wider council membership abreast of the work of the Board and its views on the council’s progress.

Agenda – at each meeting the Board will agree the content of the agenda for the next meeting. Standard agenda items should include:

 

  • Any actions from the previous meeting
  • Report on progress against the improvement plan
  • Risk review
  • Additional items for the agenda for the next meeting
  • Confirmation of date, time and venue for the next meeting

 

Membership

  • Improvement Board Chair (experienced Local Authority senior officer)
  • Leader of Thanet District Council
  • Deputy Leader of Thanet District Council
  • Leader of the main opposition group, Thanet District Council
  • Leader of the largest group of Independents
  • Independent Chair of the Thanet DC Standards Committee
  • Thanet DC Chief Executive
  • Thanet DC Monitoring Officer
  • Three Peer Councillors (to be a Labour, Conservative and Independent Councillor from another Authority)
  • Other officers as required to be co-opted 

Review

These Terms of Reference will be kept under review by the Improvement Board as things develop and appropriate amendments made.

These are internal meetings but a note will be issued after each meeting highlighting key messages from the discussions, as a means of keeping staff and the wider council membership abreast of the work of the Board and its views on the council’s progress.