Council transforming to become Fit for the Future

PUBLISHED: 5 February 2024

Colchester City Council discusses draft budget proposes to protect services and ensure long-term financial resilience.

A report on Colchester City Council’s plans to address its financial position and make sure it is fit for the future will be discussed by its Scrutiny Panel next week (13 February 2024).

Colchester City Council has a strong track record of financial management, having saved nearly £16 million since 2018, but further savings and additional income totalling £6.262million are needed over the next three years, with continued rising costs expected.

To close this gap, to both future proof the council as an organisation and protect services, the paper being considered by the Scrutiny Panel provides further information to support proposals to reduce its net operating costs by 25 percent over the next three years.

These proposal plans are called the ‘Fit for the Future’ programme and will mean the council will reshape what it does and how it delivers its services, ensuring that the council and its services are affordable, fit for the future of the city, and for the people that live, work and visit Colchester. 

The report details five key themes within the Fit for the Future programme of work:
  • Environment: Including, further promotion of the chargeable garden waste service; delivery of an updated Colchester Waste Strategy to ensure collections are sustainable and fit for our residents, and a review of its grounds maintenance and street care services to maximise their efficiency. Leisure and Economy: Exploration of a new model to deliver its culture and heritage service; introduction of an admission charge at Hollytrees Museum; and a review of its sport and leisure service to put community health and wellbeing at the heart of its vision and delivery.
  • Housing: Establishing a new Housing Board, connecting partners across the North East Essex Health and Wellbeing Alliance to provide better partnership working; and delivering a Housing Action Plan to work in partnership across North Essex Councils to tackle pressures on the council budget from the national housing crisis.
  • Assets: Create a clear plan that enables the Council to understand and leverage maximum benefit from the assets it owns enabling sound financial and risk-based decisions to be made; and to adopt a ‘corporate landlord model’ which will streamline operations by consolidating staff
  • Corporate: Colchester, Braintree and Epping Forest Councils are working together to look at how they can find new ways to operate and harness the skills and similarities across the three councils through a Shared Services1 approach; delivery of a new Workplace Strategy to support employees through this period of transition and change and ensure we have the skills we need to deliver our services; and investment in our digital and IT capabilities. To further improve our on-line customer services.
Pam Donnelly, Chief Executive of Colchester City Council, said: “Our Fit for the Future proposals describe how we will respond to our significant financial pressures while continuing to transform our services for the benefit of staff and residents. Our employees will be key to this so the plans also explain how our workforce will be supported and developed through this change.

“As we all know, local government is facing unprecedented challenges, and we believe that by working together with our communities, local authorities in North Essex and partners across Colchester and Essex, we can be stronger together and ensure we are fit for the future needs of our residents and businesses.”

Cllr David King, Leader of the Council, added: “We’ve already managed to identify a lot of savings and efficiencies and we will raise extra income, where we can, to help close the budget gap we face. However, we do need to change and reduce our operating costs, and this means we will need fewer staff delivering services very differently.

“We will do all we can to keep what matters most, whilst ensuring that the Council takes the steps needed to ensure we can balance the budget and live within our means. We remain committed to investing in our city and are delivering programmes that invest over £40 million of external funding into the city centre, helping to boost our economy and businesses, all helping to ensure we are a city fit for the future.”

The Fit for the Future report will be discussed at Scrutiny Panel on 13 February before going to Cabinet on 13 March 2024. A decision will be made at Full Council later this spring. You can view a copy of the report going to Scrutiny Panel here.

Page last reviewed: 5 February 2024


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