Bristol City Council is an outward-looking, innovative council which is emerging from a time of challenge, according to an independent review.

A shift in culture within the council coupled with a drive to push out ideas and become a ‘catalyst for change,’ is amongst the findings from the LGA (Local Government Association) Corporate Peer Challenge published in November.

The review was undertaken in September by a team of councillors and senior officers from local authorities around the UK who examined the council’s leadership, governance, financial planning and capacity to deliver its priorities.

The review found that following a period of demanding change, the council has worked hard to put numerous building blocks in place for long term improvement, including:

  • the establishment of a new Executive team structure, offering visible leadership and saving £1 million per year;
  • rigorous budget management and stronger financial grip, in line with recommendations in the council commissioned Bundred report (February 2017) and evidenced by its medium term financial plan (available here).

Reviewers also showcased examples of the council’s dynamism and innovation to help it meet its priorities and set out a sustainable, long term vision for the city such as:

  • the ‘One City Approach’, and soon to be launched ‘One City Plan’ in which the council and city partners collectively express ambitions and priorities for Bristol up to 2050
  • the City Leap Prospectus which has drawn interest from investors and innovators to join the council in building a city-wide sustainable energy system;
  • the Operations Centre which by co-locating traffic management, emergency control and First bus acts as the ‘brain of the city’;
  • accelerating Housing Delivery
  • the Smart City Bristol initiative which leverages technological know-how and infrastructure to support the city’s growth.

The Peer Challenge also noted that the council has more work to do to embed changes, consolidate emerging stability in the workforce and ensure there is consistency of learning and innovation across the organisation.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees who, the report states, has set a new tone for collaborative leadership in the city said:

“In September we opened our doors to a Local Government Association Peer Challenge. We wanted an objective and expert assessment of the council undertaken at the midpoint of my administration. They spent more than 460 hours talking with over 200 people including staff, local and national partners and opposition councillors.

“The LGA have stated the Council has a real sense of ambition for the City and it has a new and impressive senior officer leadership team ready to deliver change. Of course there remain serious challenges and areas for improvement, but they find the council is now in a stronger position to take the critical decisions the city of Bristol needs to fulfill its exceptional potential.

“I am grateful LGA for their support. We continue to build upon the foundations we have established to deliver real change for Bristol.”

Bristol City Council
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