The culture of the council must reflect the priorities of this manifesto, which in turn are based on the unique needs and challenges of our district. The pandemic has reconnected local government with its sense of purpose, as councils have had a crucial role to play in supporting our local communities and businesses.
We will continue the work done during the pandemic year to create a ‘one council’ approach which ensures the values and vision of the council are embedded in all services, and people are put first.
Against a background of year-on-year cuts to our funding by central government, we’ve halted cuts to services, invested wisely, made efficiencies, and kept the council’s finances sound. However, there is no certainty on funding beyond this year.
We recognise that one district council can’t do it all, but we do have a role as a leader in our community and an enabler of others. In these uncertain times, your council must take a lead as arole model for how a large organisation should conduct itself.
Environmental and equality best practice, and local wealth building must be built into all decisions, and the allocation of resources. It is up to the council to set the standards and push back against the ideas that it is acceptable for jobs to be low paid and precarious, and that contracting public services out to the private sector by default always deliver the best result.
Equally, we will be bound by the commitment that the council takes care of the funds it receives from the local taxpayers and council tenants, and that good value for money is a core principle we stick to.
We will continue to work with all our partners to understand the challenges our district faces, and work together on solutions, directing council resources most effectively – whether this is officer time and expertise, funding from the council, or leveraging in external grants.
As a council with regulatory powers, we can create and maintain the frameworks for communities to be safe and decent places to live – to give you the freedom and the power to thrive. We pledge to use the council’s statutory duties to support non-statutory priorities on the economy, well being and the environment.
- food safety
- environmental protection
- private sector housing improvement
- waste management
- council housing
- tenant engagement
- homelessness prevention
- planning enforcement
- local planning
- flood management
- civil emergency planning
Services are best when they are genuinely co-designed by councils and communities working together and listening to each other. Genuine partnerships reap dividends for all those involved and bring better outcomes for local people as well as better value for money in a time when resources are still limited.
A listening and learning council
• Co-design services with residents and tenants and create a people-first council culture
• Learn from best practice and adopt innovative and evidence-based solutions to our biggest challenges especially climate change and sustainable communities
• Invest in a digital offer so residents, tenants and businesses can access council services and support online or in person in the way that is most convenient and accessible for them
• Review existing wards and councillor representation to ensure local people are best represented
An enabling and cooperative council
• Continuing our partnership working with county, town and parish councils to deliver on local priorities and for the interests of the whole district
• Ensure councillors and officers can participate fully in the work of the council, with caring responsibilities or other circumstances being properly supported.
• Join the Cooperative Councils Innovation Network and partner with other innovative organisations
A council striving for equality
Deliver on our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan 2021-24 and its three key objectives:
– Listen and learn from our communities and use this to deliver services that work well for everyone
– Actively champion our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and tackle
– Build a diverse and engaged workforce, where everyone is respected
• Voluntarily adopt Section 1 of the Equality Act, the socio-economic duty, as an effective framework for tackling poverty and economic inequality locally.
An ethical council
• Continue to ensure the majority of the council’s spend on goods and services is local
• All large contracts up for renewal to include a business case for bringing the service back in house
• Establish an ethics policy for our investments and work within the Brunel Partnership to divest pension funds from fossil fuels as well as exploring how local authority pension funds can be locally invested
• Explore options for bringing more financial power to our district such as giving support to cooperative banking as well as investing in local schemes including renewable energy projects
• Promote the Fair Tax Mark with a long term plan to become a Fair Tax District
• Build a collaborative partnership with other anchor institutions in the district to increase their local spend on goods and services, using procurement to encourage local economic, social and environmental benefits
A self-financing council
• Set a balanced budget every year and meeting the uncertainty of future government funding with innovation and creativity
• Seek to generate income in ways that fit our priorities, benefiting the district and not just for commercial reasons
• Investigate setting up a trading company to provide income by training and services in SDC specialisms such as on building and renovating low carbon housing and becoming a carbon neutral organisation
A voice at the table
• Actively participate at a county, regional and national level to get a better deal for our district
• Secure inward investment for major infrastructure projects