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Craven District Council faces more challenges
Craven District Council could “blow its own trumpet” more effectively, a report has concluded.
The council had faced challenging times since 2008, had made good progress and was now a leaner, fitter organisation, added the report.
But it still faced more challenges including some difficult financial decisions.
It also needed to look at generating additional income, partly through a more co-ordinated management of its remaining assets.
The report – which followed a visit in June by senior councillors and officers from other local authorities – said the council should be congratulated on progress it had made since the difficult financial times of 2008.
“Over the intervening period, the council has recovered the budget deficit and made a saving of £2.5 million,” said the report.
“This has included significant reshaping of the organisation, downsizing of management and staff, and exploring new ways of delivering services.”
The report continued that the council had achieved a number of positives, such as working on the expansion of rural broadband, investing in Craven Pool and Fitness Centre, a new website and engagement with the Youth Council.
The relocation of the council to Belle Vue Square from Granville Street was marked as a positive and one that had received “positive feedback” from staff.
But there were challenging times to come with the likely reduction in public sector funding.
“The future will mean big political decisions will need to be taken on the council’s larger areas of spend, such as Skipton Town Hall, waste and community grants,” said the report.
The council had good “political and managerial leadership” and senior leaders both respected each other and had a strong working relationship.
As a result of selling assets, such as Settle Town Hall and 9 High Street, the council had been left with a smaller asset base and limited capital reserve.
“It will be important for the council to grow the capital reserve, partly through more co-ordinated management of assets,” said the report.
It added there would be limited opportunities to generate more income.
“The council needs to develop a clear and strategic approach to income generation,” it said. “There needs to be a political discussion to set the framework for the balance between income generation and service savings. Underpinning this is a need to agree a strategic approach to achieve increases in the capital reserve.”
Council leader Coun Chris Knowles-Fitton welcomed the report. “The findings of the report are very positive, highlighting that the council is in a much better place than four years ago, a leaner, fitter organisation ready for the challenges to come,” he said.
“We have also delivered some significant projects, for example, the expansion of rural broadband, new council website, more affordable housing, investment in Craven Pool and the introduction of alternate weekly collections.
“These tangible improvements have led to greater confidence both within the council and externally, raising the profile and standing of the council.”
To see the full report, go to the council website at cravendc.gov.uk/ peerchallenge.