Action plan to be drawn up on ways Norfolk County Council can improve

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

An action plan is to be drawn up after a review made a series of recommendations for ways Norfolk County Council could do things better.

Norfolk County Council's County Hall headquarters in Norwich

Norfolk County Council's County Hall headquarters in Norwich - Credit: Archant

Conservative-controlled County Hall invited a group of officers from other local councils to run the rule over the authority in what is known as a peer review.

In a role as 'critical friends', they highlighted how the council is changing at pace and the change of leadership means there is a sense of "re-booting" the role of the authority.

They said the council had successfully tackled the financial challenges it has faced - more than £400m of cuts and savings since 2011 - but must do more to ensure all departments spend in line with budgets.

They also said a "lack of consistency" in middle management practices was a "significant issue" and more should be done to train councillors.

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The review's findings, to be discussed by the cabinet on Monday, December 2, state: "There is a strong sense that a 're-booting' of the council is taking place, enabling the generation of a new narrative for the authority to move on from the past.

"Crucial to this succeeding, however, is the council ensuring it takes partners and staff with it, by maximising the opportunities to influence agendas and be engaged and involved."

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On the council's finances, the report states: "Significant swings in directorate spending can be seen year on year, with significant in-year overspends in some areas and underspends in others, with these being brought into line through technical adjustments and the movement of monies both into and out of earmarked and general reserves.

"Whilst the council has consistently delivered a balanced budget year on year, there is an inconsistent understanding of how spending across different parts of the council is operating and where savings are being derived from."

The review team recommended greater consistency and clarity around departmental budgets.

Andrew Proctor, council leader, said: "The team did a very good job in assessing where we are now and making specific recommendations about what we should be doing for the future.

"We are very pleased with the outcome, but there are recommendations and we intend to draw up an action plan."

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