Agenda item

Review of Vision and Corporate Priorities


The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Services presented the report which outlined the ambition for both Thurrock Council and Thurrock as a borough.  Members were shown the existing vision and corporate priorities as well as the proposed new draft priorities, and were asked to comment as part of the consultation process.


Councillor Duffin asked why the Council were going through this process as the new priorities seemed to be a lot of words that would not dictate strategy and meant very little to him, and he felt that many of Thurrock’s residents would feel the same.  He questioned the use of spending a lot of time and money on something that would, in his opinion, achieve very little.  The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Services thanked Councillor Duffin for his feedback and agreed that it would need to be meaningful and there was a risk of being too generic, with no real relation to Thurrock and being unrecognisable.  She continued that these visions and priorities were part of the framework for service planning and core service delivery.


Councillor Duffin suggested it be amended to bullet point form, and put more plainly so that it was more accessible for residents.  Councillor Liddiard agreed that for the residents of Thurrock there was a large amount of rhetoric, though he felt that the vision and priorities were important to officers to show them what they, and the Council as a whole, would be working towards.  Councillor Maney interjected that in terms of what the document meant and how it would be delivered was surely the responsibility of elected Members, and that he suspected in a few months’ time Members would be holding officers to account.  He queried the meaning of “Wider Team Thurrock” and added that it felt like too much jargon.  Many Members echoed this question.  The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Services explained that it referred to the Council’s partners, businesses and institutions within Thurrock, to identify that a great deal of work done within the borough was a collaborative effort.  She agreed that it could be articulated more effectively.


Councillor Watkins agreed that it was important to ensure that officers and those working with the Council were clear of what the expectations and aims were.  He referred to the fact that some partner organisations had been listed and not others and asked whether there was any reason why.  Members were informed that it was just to give an example, that there was no reason those specific organisations had been listed.


The Chair raised his concern that previously this type of review had always been a “bottom up” process beginning with public consultation whereas in this instance the decision to review the Council’s visions and priorities had not been made by Full Council, or even the Cabinet, but solely the Leader of the Council and the Portfolio Holder which implied a very “top down” approach.  He continued that in reality there was very little information and detail included; there were three broad areas that no Local Authority would disagree with.  The document made no specific reference to schools or increasing pride in Thurrock, Community harmony or Thurrock’s heritage.  While he accepted this was a first stab he felt it was a disappointing effort.


Councillor Duffin asked what the cost of the consultation process would be and how much time it would absorb as he felt personally that a large number of consultations were undertaken by Thurrock that seemed not to achieve much.  The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Services assured Members that the Council had used the wealth of feedback for the most important priorities, from existing forums rather than carrying out a separate exercise which would cost more.  She agreed that the feedback of what details were missing from the report would be taken on board, as well as the fact that the approach needed to be “bottom up”.  She explained that this had been the first draft to test the waters but agreed that there was work to be done.


Councillor Liddiard outlined that if you were to ask an IT specialist how to improve a situation the response would be to get a new server, a Highways specialist would suggest building another road.  It was important that the process considered all areas and options.  The Chair agreed that the importance was for people to see the document and own it and the difficulty of a top-down approach was that the final changes would need to be approved by Full Council and this had not been a good start.




That the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee commented upon the proposed new vision and corporate priorities.


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