Bryony Houlden, Chief Executive, South West Councils
First of all thank you to all local authorities in the South West for continuing to support South West Councils going forward into 2014/15. We are constantly looking to improve the support we offer to you, so thank you to everyone who completed our first comprehensive customer survey. We were pleased to have nearly 200 responses. There were some areas where we need to improve. One suggestion was that we need to be better at raising awareness of all the services we offer. A respondent summed it up: “You need to promote your services more widely. I realised that there are many other services that SW Councils offer …”
As a starter to raise awareness of our services, and since it is appraisal season, ,it might be timely to mention that we provide advice, support and training on appraisal processes and we continue to provide a free service of independent facilitation support for Chief Executives of South West Councils’ member organisations.
The positives in our customer survey included being rated highly for the expertise we provide (as one respondent said, “high quality and responsive service, flexible and tailored to meet .. needs”), as well as:
•89% rated customer service as good or excellent
•83% agreed or strongly agreed that they felt they were treated as valued customers
Our customers rated us as very dependable but they also identified that we could be more innovative. We aim to provide new services where we identify a gap in provision – but we could do with your help in suggesting what more we could do to support you in the future.
Congratulations to Mid Devon Council for successfully achieving Member Charter reaccreditation for their commitment to Member Development. We are pleased that a number of authorities are now looking to achieve the Charter status, which is a light touch “health check” of development activity ensuring that Members get support to carry out their increasingly wide-ranging, challenging roles and enables the sharing of best practice across authorities. Members might wish to watch out for our new one day workshop on Welfare Reform.
Finally, looking a little ahead as we run up to the general election, the LGA will be continuing to make sure that the views of local government are heard amongst the noise of those competing for a share of voice. Watch out for the article in this newsletter regarding the next step in the Rewiring Public Services campaign.
Nuclear power station to boost local economy
On the 21 October, the Government announced that the proposed nuclear power plant, Hinckley Point C, in West Somerset is to become a reality. There will be two reactors at the site, with the first expected to be operational by 2023.
Both Somerset County Council and West Somerset Council have welcomed the approval of Hinckley Point C. Both councils have highlighted the economic benefit that the station will bring to the area and the region. It is expected that the construction of the plant will create 25,000 jobs and will inject £100m into the local economy, in addition to 900 permanent jobs for its 60 year lifespan.