In April 2016 a decision was made by Council to amend the structure of the senior management team to be headed up by two Executive Directors, Dave Webb as Head of Paid Service and David Buckland as S151 officer, the officer in charge of finance.
The new team has settled in well and we have concluded the year with a very positive report from the team who conducted our recent Peer Challenge review. That group was made up of local authority officers and members from Councils across the country who came into our offices to observe how we work, from the perspective of our residents, partners and many stakeholders.
Their job was not to inspect the council, but to act as a critical friend, assessing our strengths and weaknesses. They found the Council in very good shape however the report still gives us some recommendations to become an even more effective Council which we are working on and will be implementing ideas in the coming year.
We are very focussed on the economic prospects for the future, providing both the housing and employment opportunities we need but also the infrastructure that goes with it.
Following a lengthy period of consultation and public examination, the Local Plan was at last put into place with the adoption of the Core Strategy on 11th July 2016. The Plan passed all its tests of soundness, including a five year supply of building land, to become the guiding principles for determining planning applications in Stratford District.
It has taken a lot of hard work over several years, but we now have a legally sound document that is compliant with Government policy.
A recent Government White Paper on “fixing our broken housing market” suggested that we are ahead of the game. Within that document it was clear that more than one third of local Councils up and down the country have failed to produce their local plans.
There are other areas that we need to focus on to have a completely up to date Local Plan which includes a Gypsies and Traveller Plan and a number of reserve sites should any that have been granted planning permission not get developed.
The Community Infrastructure Levy is the final part of the jigsaw. Our final draft was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate at the end of 2016 and we are still waiting for their final comments and conclusions. That is expected imminently.
During the summer 2016 the Council undertook a Strategic Review, essentially a holistic view of Stratford which included representation from businesses, residents, tourism boards and transport boards, among many others, to enable us to form an all round view of Stratford District as it is now and how people want it to be.
That work is gathering momentum with the most significant outcome being the Strategic Transport Strategy, which is in the final stages of its consultation process.
Other significant areas of improvement have been identified and the council has established five work streams, made up of officers and members, to help bring these improvements forward for the benefit of residents.
SDC Customer Satisfaction Index 2016 (CSI)
The Council recently completed its latest research into satisfaction with the Council, producing a new CSI, something we have done every two years since 2002.
Headline results showed that an overall satisfaction score of 79.1%, the highest ever score recorded since 2002. Refuse and recycling top scored at 86.6% however there is still work to be done in the planning department as satisfaction there had the lowest score of 69.9%.
More details are available on our web-site www.stratford.gov.uk