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Saturday 2 March 2013

Cheshire East becomes a ‘Strategic Council’


Cheshire East Council has backed a radical overhaul of the way it works, in a move to focus on shaping Cheshire East as a good place to live and work.

It will do this by commissioning local public services differently from a wide range of quality providers in future.

The aim is to support an ambitious programme of ‘service transformation’, as part of becoming a more agile and forward-looking organisation.

This will improve the quality of life of local people, reduce waste and duplication, drive down costs and boost value for money for local people.

A meeting of Full Council yesterday (Thursday) voted through Chief Executive Kim Ryley’s planned review of management roles and responsibilities.

These proposals will see the number of management posts reduced by a quarter - saving the Council £5m a year by 2015. It will also see the end to narrow ‘silo’ working which has held the Council back in the past.

In its place a new more holistic, joined-up management structure will be created with a clear split between the commissioning and provision of services.

By taking advantage of natural turnover, as people leave or retire, the Council's planned changes will reduce its workforce by about 1,000 posts over three years. This will be achieved without large-scale redundancies or major cuts to essential services.

Chief Executive Mr Ryley said: “This is about making Cheshire East a modern, agile and more effective 21st Century council that aspires to be the very best. It will put the strategic commissioning of services at the core of what Cheshire East Council does.

“It is about ‘doing more for less’ in the more challenging and complex environment in which councils now find themselves.

“We will have to rethink the way we work and make changes to the way local services are delivered if we are to retain the range and quality of provision that local people want within the more limited resources available to us now and in the future.

“This will mean working innovatively and more closely with our local community partners and with greater engagement with local ward councillors to deliver for local people.

“Our bold but careful approach will give priority to protecting essential frontline jobs and investing in good-quality, value-for-money services.”

In his report to Council, Mr Ryley said the benefits of the new management structure include:

● Greater choice for local people;

● Making all public service providers more accountable to local people.

● A focus on early intervention and prevention;

● Unlocking resources within local communities;

● A wider, more strategic approach to shaping communities;

● More innovative ways of working for the people of Cheshire East;

● Greater efficiency, by targeting provision;

● Moving to a system of payment by results;

● Both greater collaboration and greater competition between providers, where appropriate.

Mr Ryley added: “The focus of the Council will shift to brokering, facilitating, supporting and empowering, as well as to prevention and early intervention - rather than simply providing or procuring services.

“These changes are designed to take forward the next stage of our ‘Localism' agenda. They will help us create more resilient and self-sufficient communities, which reduce unnecessary demand on public services by involving local people more actively in our commissioning processes and decisions, as well as in the ‘co-production' of local services.

“This approach recognises that the public's priority is to receive effective, good-value local services - and that this matters more to them than who provides that service.

“Strategic commissioning is not about simply reducing costs through cheaper provision or about traditional outsourcing - it is about doing things smarter, more efficiently and more innovatively to deliver for local people.”

Councillor Michael Jones, Leader of Cheshire East Council, added: “It is right we restructure staff as part of an evolutionary process to become a more transparent council.

“I suggest that staff no longer have just a job, but far more than that. I suggest that they have both a mandate and a mission to deliver a better quality of life for all the residents of Cheshire East.

“This is innovative, and some might say, brave. I say that it is essential. The overwhelming majority of our staff are the best that you can have. They are loyal and committed and this restructure will give them the platform to show how good they really are.

“We are one Cheshire East, we are one Council, one team, and there is a ‘Cheshire East way’ of doing things.

“I believe the Cheshire East way is never simply saying no to residents, and never writing aggressive letters to outside bodies thinking we know best. It is about moving boundaries to deliver. And it is about always keeping our promises.”

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