Agenda item

Corporate Strategy

The report of the Chief Executive is attached.


The Leader and Portfolio Holder for Strategic and Borough-wide Leadership, Councillor Clarke presented the report of the Chief Executive.


In moving the recommendation, the Leader informed Council that the updated Corporate Strategy presented for approval built upon the successes of the previous Strategy, which continued to deliver improvements within the Borough including Bingham Arena and the Crematorium. The updated Strategy would carry forward the same four priorities as the last two strategies, providing stability and the opportunity to deliver long-term change. He noted that the Strategy supported the delivery of the quality services that residents expected, maintained the Council’s position charging the lowest Council Tax, whilst achieving the highest recycling rate, and drew Council’s attention to the range of projects included under the environment priority focusing on delivering further improvements in the Borough.


Councillor Brennan seconded the recommendation and reserved the right to speak.


Councillor J Walker commended the work of officers on the new Strategy but informed Council that the Labour Group would not be supporting its adoption as it was not in any way reflective of their views and stated that the Strategy lacked ambition especially in the areas of climate breakdown and the local economy. Councillor Walker went on to say that there had also been a lack of democratic engagement in the development of the Strategy, and that whilst Councillors had been given the opportunity to feedback on the draft Strategy that had been too late in the process. She went on to list the suggestions the Labour Group had made during the consultation process, including more stringent requirements on developers to incorporate more green technology, increased sustainable links between communities, including improved public transport; kerbside glass recycling and a recognised recycling strategy; local start-up funds and community wealth building; a commitment to lobby central government for a more regressive tax system and a business rates reset, and a commitment to learn from the peer challenge in respect of how other local authorities were increasing local democracy and resident participation; an assessment of the Council’s asset base to increase engagement across local communities; ensuring that the decommissioning of the power station made a positive contribution to the Borough; development of a robust social value strategy and a commitment to pay at least the national living wage as a minimum.


Councillor Thomas expressed the view that the document felt like a box-ticking exercise. She felt that the consultation was too high-level, did not encourage engagement from Councillors and happened too late in the process and that the responses received appeared to have been ignored. Councillor Thomas went on to highlight other aspects of the document that she felt were detrimental, such as its backward focus on achievements, that there were too many tasks in which the Council had limited control above setting its own goals, there was a lack of follow through relating to important Council initiatives such as increasing hedgerows, putting in requirements for solar panels on all new developments, making new homes more energy efficient, and a workable alternative to the management charges on new estates. She concluded that the process of developing the Corporate Strategy was flawed and she found herself unable to support its adoption.


Councillor Polenta expressed a number of views about the importance of local democracy and participatory democracy and the Council’s role in improving the lives of vulnerable residents in terms of access to homes, education and jobs.


Councillor R Mallender recognised that a lot of work had gone into the development of the Corporate Strategy but expressed disappointment that in this instance the Council had not achieved its usually high levels of participation and engagement. Councillor Mallender agreed with Councillor Thomas that within many activities the Council was a participant rather than a leader, and that the tasks outlined lacked ambition and commitment to real change, stating examples such as solar panels on new homes and retrofitting flood defences in existing communities.


Councillor S Mallender expressed the view that the tasks included under the environment priority were all laudable but did not go far enough. The Council had a target to become carbon neutral in its own operations, but the target needed to stretch to all businesses and homes within the Borough, and in many areas the Council was waiting on national policy before taking action, instead of being a leader in its community. Councillor Mallender called upon the Council to be more ambitious and to recognise its role as a community leader as the planet had finite resources that could not sustain unfettered growth.


Councillor Butler expressed disappointment in the negativity from Councillors across the Chamber and felt it was important to celebrate the successes of the previous Strategy as that put the forward elements of the Strategy in context and stated that it was right that the Council was proud of what it had achieved. He also felt that opportunities were created for members of the public and Councillors to get involved in the development of the Strategy and that this was clear in the range of tasks the Council had committed to.


Councillor J Wheeler echoed the views of Councillor Butler and stated that the development of the Strategy had included months of work by officers, being featured in Rushcliffe Reports, which went out to every home in the Borough, reaching over 50,000 followers on social media, and there had been two opportunities for Councillors to contribute their views. Councillor Wheeler confirmed that he was satisfied that opportunities to become engaged had been sufficient and that if there were only four objections it suggested that everyone else was satisfied with the document that had been developed.


Councillor Gowland clarified for Council that one of the four consultation submissions was from the Labour Group, where all response had been drawn together into one submission to make it easier for officers to take into account.


Councillor Way echoed the views put forward by other Councillors that the engagement of those outside of Cabinet in the development of the Corporate Strategy had been lacking.


In addressing the points raised, Councillor Brennan stated that she welcomed the updated Corporate Strategy and reminded Councillors that it was a living document, which could be expanded over the next four years as tasks were completed and new opportunities presented themselves. She went on to point out that many of the suggestions made, in particular by the Labour Group, were not within the remit of the Borough Council to deliver and this was why they were not included in the revised version of the Strategy. Additionally, all Councillors needed to be mindful that whilst they contributed to the consultation there was no commitment to include all suggestions in the final Strategy as this would stretch the Council beyond what it could realistically deliver. That was not to say that those suggestions had not been taken on board by officers and some might be actioned outside of the priorities stated in the Corporate Strategy. Councillor Brennan concluded by saying that the Cabinet would take on board the comments relating to involvement and consultation for the future but that it was beholden on individuals to get involved when the opportunities were presented.


The Leader was disappointed to hear that Councillors across the Chamber would not be supporting the Corporate Strategy, which aimed to guide the Council’s activities over the next four years. He felt that the document represented a lot of hard work and contained many excellent projects, which would further enhance the Borough and the quality of life of its residents. The Leader advised that he would take on board the comments made by Councillors in relation to the consultation and called upon them to support to adoption of the Corporate Strategy.


Councillor J Walker requested that a recorded vote be taken.


In accordance with the Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014, a recorded vote was taken for this item as follows:


FOR: Councillors M Barney, R Bird, A Brennan, A Brown, R Butler, N Clarke, T Combellack, J Cottee, A Edyvean, S Ellis, E Georgiou, R Inglis, D Mason, P Matthews, H Om, H Parekh, A Phillips, N Regan, D Simms, D Soloman, R Upton, D Virdi, R Walker, T Wells, G Wheeler, J Wheeler, and G Williams


AGAINST: Councillors T Birch, S Calvert, J Chaplain, K Chewings, G Fletcher, M Gaunt, P Gowland, C Grocock, L Plant, D Polenta, C Thomas and J Walker


ABSTENTION: Councillors J Billin, S Dellar, R Mallender, S Mallender and L Way


It was RESOLVED that Council adopted the Corporate Strategy 2024-2027 and requested scrutiny to oversee the delivery of the Strategy and its action plan over the next four years.

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