LAMBETHWATCH ONE – YOU SPIN THINGS RIGHT ROUND LAMBETH* (or: a-peer-ances can be deceptive)
Back in October 2016 Lambeth council had a peer review. It’s a relatively new phenomenon where councillors and officers from other boroughs across England go and spend several days in the relevant borough.
Here’s the latest amazing resulting piece of spin from Lambeth which features on their own website:
“We had a peer review from the Local Government Association (LGA) in the autumn of 2016. “This review is carried out by officers and councillors from other councils and is done to see where we are making progress or where we could be doing better.
“We now have received their report that sets out their recommendations and you can read the initial response to the report by the chief executive and leader of the council.
“What they picked up on is that there is a lot of excellent activity going on across the council and borough that we can be proud of. “They also recognised that we have a very active borough with many engaged residents.
“They are pleased with our borough plan as it sets our priorities around inclusive growth, reducing inequality and maintaining strong and sustainable neighbourhoods. “They want us to improve how we prioritise and be better at engaging our residents.
“They felt there was an appetite from partners and residents for us to work closely together.
“We think they have captured a fair view of the council and borough and we are now looking to respond positively to their findings.
“The LGA will do a follow up visit to see how things have progressed and we are working to ensure it will be a positive visit.”
(Comments in bold above have been highlighted by News From Crystal Palace – Ed.)
Regular readers of News From Crystal Palace won’t be surprised to learn that not everything the peer review team found in the Lambeth garden was lovely.
Peer reviews, or peer challenges, are run under the auspices of the Local Government Association whose website states: “The process involves engaging with a wide range of people connected with the council….”
The peer review for Lambeth says: “….community engagement practice is inconsistent across the organisation. “The council should develop a strategic approach to community engagement that will ensure consistency of good practice across the organisation.”
“Some projects have not taken the community with them, resulting in significant challenge and dissatisfaction from some local people, and delay and nondelivery of projects.
“A number of ‘hot topics’ remain, such as estate regeneration , and these consume a lot of member and officer capacity.
“It appears that part of the reason why some of these projects have met significant opposition is due to lack of clarity from the offset about what the council is seeking to do and what scope there is from influencing the project in question, and/ or engagement seen as late in the process or limited in reach.
“Although engagement will not address all concerns and issues, the peer challenge team’s view is that the council would be in a better position if it consistently engaged residents at an earlier stage in the policy development and through this set out clearly the parameters on which the engagement is based.
“This would allow the authority to articulate a clear narrative to residents about council priorities, what these will mean to the services they receive and the place in which they live and work.
“It would be particularly helpful to outline how residents and their families will benefit from the delivery of these priorities.
“Furthermore, ensuring early engagement of relevant stakeholder groups on new large scale projects that come forward will help identify and respond to local concerns from the offset.”
“We have considered how we can engage citizens in a constructive way so that we are clearer about issues by learning from our experiences to date.
and (later on) “One of our biggest challenges is about how we work with our residents. “The ethos of the cooperative council is important and we want to work closely with residents to achieve the outcomes set out in the Borough Plan.
“Over the coming months we are going to talk to residents and staff and see how we can continue to meet the challenges we have been given.”
While the peer review obviously learned of concerns over demolishing estates, not a mention of libraries……..
Note: The peer review team spent four days onsite at LB Lambeth, during which they spoke to more than 180 people including a range of council staff together with councillors and external stakeholders; gathered information and views from more than 50 meetings, visited key sites and did additional research and reading.
At Lewisham the council invited the local press to meet their peer review team. One can only wonder why Lambeth didn’t follow suit. And invite th Brixton Buzz website, News From Crystal Palace or the SE1 website……
*Song title – Dead or Alive