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All Party Parliamentary Group praises district council collaboration

Date issued: 15 August 2017

Colchester Borough Council's successful collaboration with other agencies and organisations has been praised in a recent report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for District Councils (APPG).

Pam Donnelly, Colchester Council's Strategic Director Customer and Relationships, was invited to join senior figures representing four other local authorities in the South East, to speak about the successful partnerships the Council has forged with other organisations in the borough and countywide, during a parliamentary hearing held on 21 February 2017.

Altogether, 70 district councils submitted evidence, with Colchester Borough Council selected to take part as witnesses to the inquiry panel.

The APPG was established last year with the aim of promoting the interests of district councils, supporting closer working with parliamentarians and raising awareness of the opportunities for districts in shaping the evolving local government agenda.

The cross-party group of parliamentarians heard how Colchester Borough Council's work with Essex County Council and the voluntary sector had transformed the way some services are delivered, by significantly increasing the opportunities for residents and customers to interact online with the Council and via the Community Hub in the Central Library.

The Inquiry also touched on the work of the Safer Colchester Partnership, which Pam Donnelly chairs. APPG members were interested to hear how the Council had developed collaborative strategies with the Police, Essex County Council, Essex Fire and Rescue Service, local health authorities and voluntary groups to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in the Borough. Last October, the SCP launched the Community Safety Hub with Essex Police to forge a collective approach to tackling key priorities identified by the SCP, Colchester Police, and the Police and Crime Commissioner.

The APPG's report, which was launched in the Churchill Room at the Houses of Parliament, on 12 July, praises the enthusiasm and commitment among districts councils for developing close collaborative arrangements.

Highlighting one of the report's key findings Mark Pawsey MP, Chair of the Inquiry, said: "Collaboration is in the DNA of district councils. It is not restricted by political differences or traditional boundaries. Common interest and challenges are what bring people together."

The report goes on to say that councils have long-embraced collaboration, as it facilitates the strengthening of service delivery to residents, innovation in service provision, the stimulation of economic and housing growth, and cost reduction, adding: "Collaborative arrangements between districts have not only transformed services, but maintained the democratic accountability of the councils concerned."

Pam Donnelly, Colchester Council's Strategic Director Customer and Relationships, said: "I was delighted to be called to give evidence to the APPG. It provided a very valuable opportunity to showcase some really excellent partnership working in the public and voluntary sector, and to explain how developing a set of shared goals, priorities and vision for partnerships with external organisations is essential to this success."

Councillor Paul Smith, Leader of the Council, said: "It is to our enormous credit as a Council that the APPG invited Pam Donnelly to give evidence to the parliamentary inquiry.

"This is a significant and valuable report, replete with examples of successful collaboration between district councils and other agencies. It not only provides a ringing endorsement of our leadership role as a Council, but emphasises how the successful partnerships we forge can make an enormous difference to our community, helping to deliver cost-effective services to residents and supporting the local economy."