Dorset Council’s transformation plan is currently being developed by officers and lead members. Once complete the plan will describe the action required across the organisation to enable the Council to achieve its long term priorities within the funding available.
At the meeting Officers will present details of work undertaken to date to develop the transformation plan and explain the key themes and supporting governance arrangements.
The Committee received a presentation from the Cabinet Member for Corporate Development and Change and the Head of Transformation Team which explained the Council's Transformation Plan 2019-24.
The presentation set out what transformation meant for the Council, its purpose and high level objectives, the six programmes involved (one Council service reform, customer service, travel and transport, property and estates, employer of choice and efficient organisation), the governance structure, transformation benefits, the approach to delivery, the design principles, the transformation budget, communications and engagement, connecting the Council’s priorities and transformation objectives and the measures of success.
Members commented that the success of the transformation programme rested on how radical the Council was and having the courage to prioritise services to reflect the changing economy and residents' needs. It was explained that the Plan was based on the Council being bold, ambitious and radical and on what was best for its customers within the financial constraints. It was a co-ordinated programme with everyone in the Council having a part to play.
Each directorate had its own internal transformation programme which had been ongoing for some time. The Chief Executive, Executive Directors and scrutiny committees provided the necessary challenge. There was a need for the Council to think differently and use its capital assets for little or no return if there was a social need.
Members understood the need for transformation but asked about the Council's attitude to risk. It was explained that each Executive Director took account of risk within his/her budget. The Cabinet Member for Corporate Development and Change had established a group to review adult and children's services budgets because of the slippages and to gain a better understanding of the demands and enable the Cabinet to provide appropriate support. The Council's culture needed to change to empower staff to take reasonable risks as long as this was for the right reasons. Members recognised that clear policies would be needed to empower staff to make decisions and take risks.
The Committee noted that the draft Council Plan would be considered by the Cabinet the following day and a more detailed transformation plan would be considered by the Cabinet in November 2019. The Cabinet Member for Corporate Development and Change added that members had already had an opportunity to influence the Council Plan and, if agreed at Cabinet, there would be a further opportunity for comment during the consultation period with stakeholders and the public.
With regard to what other local authorities were doing in relation to transformation, the Cabinet Member for Corporate Development and Change reported on conversations he had with other local authorities at a recent Local Government Association. He reminded the Committee that it was important for the Council to work differently in order to make savings and provide better services.
One member drew attention to the lack of cross-party involvement in budget setting and highlighted the reliance on super-broadband and the delay in its delivery. The Cabinet Member for Corporate Development and Change agreed that broadband coverage was not good enough and had sent a personal letter to BT about this. The Executive Director for Place was arranging a meeting with BT's Managing Director to address this issue.
One member found the information provided helpful but questioned how people, who had been providing services in the same way over a number of years, could think radically about future service provision. The Executive Director explained that there were 200 different change projects taking place within the organisation, that new members of staff were bringing new ideas into the organisation and, when necessary, external expertise was being sought. The forthcoming peer review would also provide an opportunity to learn from other local authorities.
The Chairman thanked officers for their presentation.