Strategic Priorities for 2022/23
These are set out in the Cabinet’s vision and priorities for the 2022/23 municipal year and beyond and are listed in the bullet points shown below.
It was agreed at the 8 June 2022 Cabinet meeting that the Cabinet will work with councillors, officers, residents, businesses and partners to help the Council tackle the biggest challenges facing Colchester, from sustainability and climate change to the cost-of-living crisis, homelessness, and inequalities.
The complexity of the issues facing the borough requires significant analysis, modelling, engagement, review and testing to ensure that the scope, impact and benefits of the Council’s actions are fully understood and deliverable. An early signal of priorities supports the ability of the organisation and its partners to begin this work. It will also look to build on the strengths within our communities, businesses, and partnerships to tackle the challenges and opportunities facing Colchester together.
The Strategic Priorities for 2022/23 are:
The cost of living crisis
- The cost-of-living crisis needs an immediate response, from every level of Government, with partners and at pace. This Cabinet will prioritise support for those faced with terrible choices, between food or warmth or other essential needs, working with communities and through our community partners to build community wealth. This will include working with partners, strengthening the capacity of the Council’s high performing welfare support team and leveraging resources to provide targeted help for those in extreme difficulty, acknowledging rising demand for help and support for the most vulnerable.
City Status and strengthening the town centre
- City Status is an honour that will boost the economy in Colchester and North Essex. Everyone in Colchester deserves to feel the benefit. This administration will step-up partnership work with local businesses and the County Council to sustain and strengthen the town centre, working with the Business Improvement District and others to respond to the loss of iconic past brands.
- In strengthening Colchester’s heritage and cultural offer, the Cabinet will work to ensure Colchester remains an attractive destination, in which to invest, to work, live, shop and visit.
Improving quality of life for residents
- This year will bring forward initiatives to improve the quality of life of residents, in consultation with them, with partners and volunteers. From tree planting, increasing biodiversity and other uses of our open spaces, to opening-up Colchester’s waterways, the Cabinet will lead a strategic approach to manage existing natural areas and to develop new places in which to enjoy nature and allow its recovery.
The climate emergency
- The Cabinet will act decisively on measures that help the Council tackle the climate emergency, easing the transition to net zero carbon and bringing forward new approaches to minimise waste, encourage recycling and support positive action that reduces littering and graffiti.
Physical and digital infrastructure
- To find creative and effective new ways to bring forward affordable housing, the Cabinet will work with partners to enable essential physical and digital infrastructure and, with others, to tackle long standing challenges such as the flooding in the Hythe.
Continuing award-winning services
- An ambitious programme of improvement to address these and other transformation and delivery priorities will ensure the Council is able to maintain its essential and award-winning services whilst continuing to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
- This year the Cabinet will engage widely with others to co-design a new, ambitious, progressive and longer-term Strategic Plan for the whole Council from April 2023.
Strategic priorities for 2021-22
Investing in Covid Recovery
In July 2021 the Cabinet agreed on the strategic priorities for investment and Covid recovery.
The 2021/22 Budget includes £500,000 of unallocated (one-off) New Homes Bonus included as additional support for Covid impacts and recovery.
To drive forward recovery from the impacts of Covid on Council services, the community and the local economy, the New Homes Bonus will be used to support the Council’s strategic priorities for 2021/22 and ensure that core Council services are performing as effectively as possible. This was decided in the July 2021 Cabinet meeting.
The Strategic Plan priorities for investment and Covid Recovery in 2021/22 are:
Tackling the climate challenge and leading sustainability
- To increase biodiversity, wildflowers and accessibility to Council open spaces, the ‘Greening Colchester’ policy will be further developed through the Woodland and Biodiversity Project and based on the outcomes from the 2021 growing season pilots, in consultation with ward Councillors and the Environment and Sustainability Panel.
- To support residents to reduce, reuse and recycle their waste a budget will be made available to support the delivery of neighbourhood services, such as improving waste bins and containers for recycling materials, where demand has at times outstripped supply, and to ensure our frontline staff always have the equipment they need to do their job.
- We will invest in improved welfare, safety and compliance at the Shrub End depot whilst working towards a long-term strategy for our operational depot services.
Creating safe, healthy and active communities
- We recognise the excellent progress made in tackling Covid but we cannot be complacent. We will continue to prioritise all efforts to reduce the transmission of coronavirus and risks of infection, including local track and trace, whilst doing everything we can to protect the livelihoods of our residents and businesses.
- We will expedite progress on delivering new Community Halls at St Mark’s, Highwoods and Western by-pass, Stanway.
- Members’ Locality Budgets for 2021/22 were cut by 50% as part of the budget strategy process in the previous financial year and these will be restored back to £2,000 with immediate effect so that every councillor can support local priorities in their wards.
- Our open spaces have become increasingly significant and important to support residents’ physical and mental wellbeing during the Covid pandemic. Funding will be allocated to enhance the security of our open spaces and prevent unauthorised access that could pose a risk to the biodiversity and accessibility of these important locations.
- We will investigate opportunities to brighten-up multi-story car parks, for example through decoration or other environmental improvements.
Delivering homes for people who need them
- To help clear the current backlog of enforcement cases and enable training of a new apprentice role (currently being recruited to), an additional in-year budget contribution will provide additional capacity in the Planning Enforcement team.
- We will work with the County Council and local communities to ensure that any proposed developments on Council-owned land reflect the needs of the local community, optimise opportunities to create sustainable and affordable homes, and improve access to public transport and active travel choices.
- We will seek to construct a workable proposal for a revised allocation at Middlewick enabling the creation of a Country Park and/or Nature Reserve between Abbot’s Road and Birch Brook.
Growing a better economy so everyone benefits
- Improvements will be made to signage and interpretation around the Town Centre to support and encourage residents and visitors to make the most of their experience in Colchester and increase the length of time visitors stay.
- The Queen celebrates her Platinum Jubilee in 2022 which provides a wonderful opportunity to ‘dress’ the town and support our local communities to join the celebrations and stimulating the local economy.
- As Britain’s First City, and oldest recorded town, Colchester has been a highly significant regional centre for over 2,000 years. The Council will look to work with partners across Colchester, including the Town Deal Board, to put together a bid for City Status in 2022.
Celebrating our heritage and culture
- Our museums service will explore the potential to create smaller displays such as ‘Cabinets of Curiosity’ at external venues to help widen exposure to some of our artefacts and exhibitions.
- We will investigate the potential to highlight heritage assets which are not normally seen by the public, and we will look for creative opportunities for events that help celebrate the unique character of Colchester.
Progress in delivering against the Council’s Strategic Plan in 2020/21 was reviewed at the Scrutiny Panel in July 2021. You can find out more information in the year-end progress report.