1 Monmouthshire Partnership BUILDING SUSTAINABLE, RESILIENT COMMUNITIES: Mid Term Report &
2 The Conservative and Liberal Democrat Groups represented on Monmouthshire County Council reached an agreement to form a Partnership in 2012 for the electoral term until This document sets out our political objectives and intended approach for the remainder of this electoral term. This affirms the direction of Monmouthshire County Council for the period up to May Foreword The Council has passed the half-way point of the electoral cycle and it has been a busy and challenging period. Despite the financial pressures the organisation under this is in a healthy state; it has shown resourcefulness and imagination in responding to new economic conditions and as a result is managing to improve in most areas. These advances are underpinned by: A focused political direction Good governance arrangements A consistent set of values Clear priorities The organisation being sighted on outcomes Much has been achieved since the signed the Partnership Agreement in 2012 that set out our aims during the term of this Council. So much has changed in the last couple of years that we have returned to our original agreement to ensure it remains fit for purpose. It is a difficult and demanding time to be in public service. It is important that we remain clear about what matters most. Whilst contending with a range of complex issues, such as reducing financial resources, we face an increase in demand for services and the challenging conversations surrounding structural reform of public services. These are the times when strong political leadership is needed. We must articulate clearly the ambitions we have for our services. This agreement describes our purpose to the individuals, organisations and partners who have an interest in our county, and, most importantly, the citizens and communities of Monmouthshire. Moving Forward This document affirms the direction of the Partnership for the period up to May The Partnership will remain committed to the Single Integrated Plan and its three outcomes: Nobody is left behind People are Confident, Capable and Involved Our County Thrives We do not propose any changes to our current values, they will remain: Openness Fairness Flexibility Teamwork We will retain our existing three core priorities and we will be adding one more: Education Protecting the most vulnerable in society Promotion of enterprise, economic development and job creation Maintaining locally accessible services
3 The Partnership will ensure the County takes forward the Well-being of Future Generations Bill as a recognised Early Adopter. The Welsh Government Bill, with its focus on long term thinking, integration, collaboration, involvement and prevention sits well with our approach to community involvement through our Whole Place Planning programme. We are a rural and scattered county. This fact is often over looked by decision makers within the Welsh Government. Because of the distances between our towns and settlements it is impractical to centralise services as is happening in other towns and cities. Local delivery in a rural county is an absolute necessity. The formulae used to calculate Council funding takes insufficient account of the additional costs of delivering services in rural areas. Some services are discretionary or non-statutory but this does not mean they are not valued by local people. Faced with such huge cuts to the County s funding from Welsh Government, change is inevitable. It may be that there are others best suited to take some services forward rather than directly by the County. We will seek to ensure all valued services survive, whichever organisation provides them: whether it be through social enterprises, mutual not-for-profit companies or partner organisations. We expect every service, including our priorities, to be efficient and cost effective. We expect our schools and social services to spend as little as possible on administration and management, directing their resources to delivering their services. That having been said, we must not let our children s education suffer, nor can we ignore the demographic pressures of an aging society faced by social services. The scope for financial savings in these areas is limited. Over the next four years of progressive cuts, the County is faced with having to make savings of 21 million out of a budget of currently circa 150 million per year. As a council we will have to do less and we will have to manage expectations for improvement in some areas. Within our Medium Term Financial Strategy we will set out the key areas of our work that we will be particularly focusing on to reduce cost and generate income. When we agreed our budget for financial year 2015/16 we set out the actions that need to be taken to achieve a balanced budget and those that we have already sanctioned that start to close the gap in future years. In headline terms these are: We are investing an additional 900,000 in children s social services. We will strive to hold the level of funding for schools over the next three years but cannot finance increases for pay and price inflation; We will build two new secondary schools and complete the new Raglan Primary School. Also, we are committed to providing two further new secondary schools for Abergavenny and Chepstow once funding is secured. We will retain our four leisure centres; We will provide a new improved swimming pool in Monmouth; We will continue to work with local groups to help them deliver regeneration of our towns and communities;
4 We will build a deeper volunteer model to build on the Ambassador programmes that have yielded great success to date; We recognise the value of the Youth Service and Adult and Community Education Service and will ensure they continue as these are key preventative services; We will keep a library and one stop shop presence in all towns that currently have them but they will come together as part of a community hub provided from one venue; We will provide opportunities for self-build homes and small construction companies; We will continue to value our museums and wider cultural offer and will explore alternative service models to ensure their continued success; We will continue the 's successful and innovative environmental policies such as the Community Growing Scheme and Pollinator Policy, and continue to roll out the universally popular and nationally recognised Bees for Monmouthshire wild flower planting programme. BUT We will be reducing spend on highway maintenance; We will continue to reduce spend on the waste collection services, but in so doing will continue our expectation of even higher recycling rates; In the medium term dedicated tourist information centres will cease, unless financially supported from other bodies. Tourist information will be available from the Hubs if not from elsewhere. We will look hard at what we spend transporting children to schools so we can focus investment in core teaching and learning; Schools will need to become ever more inclusive in meeting the learning requirement of children with additional learning needs. There are tough choices to be made in the coming years. The Partnership will be inclusive in its decision making and will remain committed to meaningful, open and transparent public engagement through our #MonmouthshireEngages programme. The Partnership will provide the leadership needed to take the County of Monmouthshire through the difficult times ahead. Performance expectation Being a high performing Council and to continue being seen as high performing matters to us. Recently published data from Wales Government shows how well Monmouthshire is performing in comparison to the rest of Wales. On top of this good position, we know that our performance in 75% of nationally comparable indicators is expected to improve again in financial year 2014/15. Maintaining an upward trend on performance will remain the goal for most services. Robust performance management and evaluation will be fundamental in all we do. We recognise that in setting out our ambition for Monmouthshire we will need to be explicit about those things that we will continue to invest in and those areas that we are no longer able to support in the same way that we have previously.
5 To be clear to our communities, we will set out those areas where we expect to see continued improvement in performance. We will also identify those areas where we expect service levels to plateau or perhaps slip backwards. Priority - Education We will continue to strive for improvement at the end of all key stages. We will seek to consolidate our position as a top performer in Wales at Foundation Phase, Key stage 2, Key stage 3 and Key stage 4. At least two thirds of our schools will be in the top quartile when compared to other similar schools at both Foundation Phase and Key stage 2. Across all of the stages of education we will prioritise closing the gap in attainment between those who are eligible for free school meals and those who are not. We will satisfy Estyn that we are an effective Local Education Authority. Priority Protecting the most vulnerable Protecting the vulnerable, young and old, is at the heart of this s commitment to our communities but we do not want people to be dependent upon care provided either by our social services or the Health Service. We will ensure that more people return to independent living and will support them in reablement following a period of crisis. We will deliver more support through community networks to ensure that we meet the challenge of demographic changes in a sustainable way. In the services we provide to those children who are at risk we will not be satisfied until every child that presents to us, who is at risk, has a referral decision within one day and those on the Child Protection register receive their reviews promptly, when they are due. We will strive to improve our performance in addressing Homelessness to a level that is comparable with the best performing authorities in Wales. For those people that require housing benefit we will continue to target 100% of decisions made within 14 days. Priority Enterprise, Economic Development We want Monmouthshire to be a thriving county. We want our business environment to flourish. Working with our partners we will aim to support one hundred new business start-ups for the next three years. We will continue our commitment to protecting and improving our natural resources. Our challenge is to build on our exceptional success in recycling and reach a level of 70% of waste being recycled by 2020 whilst reducing massively the amount of waste sent to landfill. We will look to maintain our service standards in Public safety and regulatory services. This will require delivery in those service areas at an expected level, even though the volumes of work may increase. We will need to do more with less. We will prioritise keeping our most used roads at the same standard as they are now. Whilst we cannot invest in our Street light service we will work to ensure that it takes no longer than 3.5 days to repair a street light. We will also look to hold our performance in clearing fly-tipping and the cleanliness of our roads.
6 However Maintaining a breadth of service delivery will be challenging. We can expect some services to experience particular difficulties, but we will do all we can to keep those services running. Being efficient and effective In 2012 we expected that things would become difficult during our term of office. We weren t wrong. In fact, things have got a lot more challenging as our resources have diminished.. We have had to return to all of our resource plans and ask ourselves whether our approaches remain relevant and contribute to our purpose and improvement journey. We have refreshed our core plans to ensure they meet our needs and that they are aligned. Over the last few months we have approved: a revised People Strategy a refreshed Digital Strategy a re-purposed Asset Management Strategy a new Business Growth and Enterprise Strategy a budget for financial year 2015/16 with work in hand to update and balance our Medium Term Financial Plan The Cabinet For the term of this council there will be seven Conservative partner Cabinet Members and one Liberal Democrat Partner Cabinet Member. The Cabinet Members and Portfolios for the time being will be as follows: 1) Peter Fox, Leader Organisational Development 2) Phil Hobson, Deputy Leader Community Development 3) Robert Greenland, Deputy Leader Enterprise and Leisure 4) Liz Hacket Pain Schools and Learning 5) Giles Howard Environment, Public Services & Housing 6) Phil Murphy Resources 7) Geoff Burrows Social Care & Health 8) Bryan Jones County Operations These core frameworks bring together people, technology, buildings and other assets and are fundamental to us driving the organisation forward whilst delivering improved outcomes to the people we serve.
7 Conclusion The road ahead will be difficult but also exciting. The Partnership is committed to maintaining a vibrant county with sustainable and resilient communities. Monmouthshire is a wonderful place and we will do all we can to preserve it through these times of austerity. We believe that working together with all who reside, work or have an interest here, will ensure we deliver our vision. This Partnership is signed today, Thursday February 26th, 2015 at the County Hall, Usk, in the County of Monmouthshire. Cllr Peter Fox Leader of the Conservative Group Cllr Phil Hobson Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group