How the plan was developed
The Plan was developed by fully considering the views of local people.
An extensive public engagement exercise took place between October and early December 2019. Following the announcement of the 2019 General Election, this engagement continued but had to be scaled back to adhere to pre-election rules. Nevertheless, we provided a variety of ways for people to take part from an interactive website, surveys, toolkits that people could use to run their own sessions, focus groups, and a range of events. 3,200 people took part in the residents' survey. The Council's new engagement website received over 3,100 visits with people making more than 600 contributions with their views, or the views of the organisations and groups that they represent, on the Council's proposed plans. In addition, we have engaged with over 175 representatives of community and interest groups, representing people from all ages and from across the borough, including local community action groups, business groups, voluntary groups, schools, carers, trade unions, equality groups and so on.
We have also built on the feedback that local people have already provided through ongoing customer feedback, the recent Place Plan consultation, the Adult Social Care survey and consultations on specific topics such as homelessness and supporting carers. We will continue to engage with people and shape our plans through forthcoming engagement on the Council's approach to areas such as commissioning, the provision of community transport and developing a new industrial strategy.
In addition to this feedback we also considered:
- The needs of our communities: We have analysed data such as our Joint Strategic Needs Assessment to identify the specific needs of our communities. This is vitally important as the needs of our communities vary across the borough and we need to focus on issues in a locally sensitive way.
- Political priorities: Elected Councillors as the representatives of their communities have influenced this document and voted on it at our Full Council meeting in February 2020. They will continue to play a key role in developing action plans and policies that support this plan. They will also play a key role to hold the organisation to account against its key commitments.
- Areas for improvement: We monitor our performance very closely to ensure we are on track and making improvements. If we are not performing at a high enough level we take action to achieve our objectives. Our priorities and associated actions therefore reflect a number of areas where we think there is room for improvement.
- The views of our partners: Almost no Council services could be effectively delivered without the input and involvement of our local partners. These include key organisations in the public sector such as the NHS, Police, Fire and Rescue Service, Housing Associations, Jobcentre Plus etc. It also includes voluntary sector organisations that play a vital role in delivering services and supporting local communities. Businesses are also a key partner that deliver local employment and underpin successful communities. Our shared priorities are reflected in this document.
- The resources we have available: This Plan was developed alongside the budget plan. Given the success of the previous four year plan covering the period 2016-2020, and the increased certainty it gave to Council services and residents, the Council's intention was to set a four year Budget linked to the Council Plan. Considerable progress has been made but it has been constrained by the one year funding announcement and lack of clarity over the financial position in future years. Overall the funding gap for this period is estimated to be around £91 million, however after savings proposals and locally generated income we forecast a remaining gap of between £22 million and £31 million for the final three years of this Council Plan, depending on national funding. The budget for 2020-21 and indicative budget plans for 2021-24 have carefully considered the impact of any decisions on the six priorities to avoid any detrimental impact and ensure resources are in place to deliver. All the Council's budgets have now been mapped against the priorities to provide a transparent view of the budgets available. The budget report, which can be found on the Council's website, includes further details along with specific savings and investment proposals.
- The priorities of neighbouring councils: The plan recognises that a number of issues we want to address extend across local authority boundaries. For example, for many years our strategy for economic growth has been coordinated across Cheshire and Warrington alongside our Local Enterprise Partnership. The Mersey Dee Alliance extends that co-ordination into North Wales and the Liverpool City Region. We have also begun to coordinate our approach to health and social care, families and individuals with multiple needs, and community safety across Cheshire and Warrington. The Council and its partners are looking to take on more responsibilities from central Government at this level both to drive further economic growth and to support effective public services.
- National objectives: We have considered the priorities and resources of national Government and our legal responsibilities, and will maintain a close eye on any emerging priorities and future responsibilities devolved from central Government.
- Good practice: Finally, we have considered good practice from other councils as well as from across the public and private sector.