A – Working with Partners to Deliver Quality
and Responsive Services
4.1 Our Commitments
We want the people of Leicestershire to be satisfied that the quality of life in the County is improving and that Leicestershire is a good place to live. We can achieve this by continuing to improve the quality of the services we provide and, working in partnership with other agencies, to deliver the services people want and deserve. It is important that the aspirations of the people of Leicestershire and their views are taken into account in decisions affecting services, that they are aware of what services are available, and that they can access them easily. The County Council has an important role in providing leadership and representing the community on issues that affect them. We want to continue to develop this role.
In order to meet these commitments we will, in partnership with others where appropriate:
- Continue to develop the ways in which we consult with the local community;
- Explore the benefits, wherever possible, of working in partnership with other agencies to deliver better services;
- Ensure that people are aware of, and have the most efficient access possible to the services we provide;
- Provide opportunities for the young people of Leicestershire to fulfil their potential;
- Support the development of cultural and leisure facilities;
- Protect and care for the environment of Leicestershire;
- Promote the economic well being of the County.
4.2 Our Priorities
The specific priority areas we intend to address to make further improvements can be summarised as:
- To complete a countywide Community Strategy;
- To progress the Better Access to Better Services Initiative (BABSI);
- To improve the access to and quality of libraries;
- To promote Local Strategic Partnerships as key partnerships;
- To work towards the Government’s e-government target;
- To meet the national Equality Standard.
Priority – To Complete a Countywide Community Strategy
4.3 Progress to Date
A wide range of organisations and partnerships that deliver public services in Leicestershire have come together to form the Leicestershire Local Strategic Partnership (LLSP). This includes the County Council and all of the District Local Strategic Partnerships. The LLSP seeks to improve the quality of life of local people by improving the quality and co-ordination of public services in the County. In order to do this it has developed a Community Strategy based on extensive public consultation aimed at identifying issues of public interest or concern.
The results of consultation indicate that the major priorities of local people are:
- children and young people;
- traffic and transport;
- crime and community safety.
4.4 Priorities for 2003/04 and beyond
It is intended that a final version of the Community Strategy, including the additional actions to be undertaken by the County Council and its partners to address these priorities, will be agreed by the Council at its meeting in July 2003. This Performance Plan takes account, where necessary, of the Council’s contribution to the Community Strategy.
We will use the Community Strategy as the prime basis of our future partnership working with other agencies in the County. We will monitor the delivery of the actions outlined in the Strategy aimed at improving services to the local community.
We believe partnership working will play an increasingly important part in the successful delivery of services and intend to take an active part in all such arrangements. We have referred to some of our most significant partnerships in the relevant Sections of this Plan.
Priority – To Progress the Better Access to Better Services Initiative
Priority – To work towards the Government’s e-government target
The County Council is committed to improve the means by which the public can make contact with its services. By 2006 we intend to have made significant improvements to the range of methods of access that customers can choose, the convenience of these methods and the quality of responses customers receive. These improvements will include electronic access as set out in the County Council's Implementing Electronic Government statement. The Government has set a target for all local authorities to deliver 100% of services capable of being delivered electronically by 2005. Progress against this target is closely related to our BABSI initiative.
4.5 Progress to Date
During 2002/03 the County Council launched its Better Access to Better Services initiative. This commits us to improving access to our services in ways that are determined by the needs and preferences of the people who use them. The objectives are to provide appropriate locations, times and methods of service delivery, using joint arrangements where appropriate.
In order to move forward our programme we agreed a range of initial projects to improve access arrangements. The main areas of progress in 2002/03 were:
- A new multi-agency centre at Fleckney;
- Three new ICT centres in libraries;
- A pilot project using Post Offices as information points;
- Providing broadband access to 76 schools;
- Providing 40 new transactions on the County Council's web site;
- Improving information in different languages;
- 20 new ICT help points in rural areas;
- The introduction of a single phone line for highway improvement information and fault reporting;
- and a fourth phase of building access improvements for disabled people.
In 2001/02, we had only 31% of interactions enabled for electronic delivery compared to an average of 35% at comparable authorities and a national target of 29%. We have now committed significant resources to developing access to services by electronic means, including a provision of £245,000 in the 2002/03 budget to continue the work set out in our Implementing Electronic Government statement. We have achieved significant progress to date with 47% of services enabled by March 2003, slightly exceeding our own target and national expectations.
The development of the draft Leicestershire Community Strategy during 2002/03, which involved widespread consultation, identified the requirement of Leicestershire people to have access to public services:
- which are easy to contact, friendly and helpful;
- that use the most convenient method (such as telephone, letter, email, fax or personal visits) for them;
- which are open at times that suit local people;
- where a range of services can be accessed at the same time.
The County Council has therefore initiated discussions with partners through the LLSP to develop a multi-agency framework for access improvements. County and District Council Leaders formally agreed the principle of joint working between their authorities and with other agencies to achieve access improvements in December 2002. This is clearly in line with the public's desire to see a simpler more co-ordinated approach between public bodies.
The LLSP held a workshop in November 2002 to allow a range of public service providers to share their plans for access improvements and to discuss the problems surrounding inter-agency working. Subsequently, the LLSP and District Local Strategic Partnerships have agreed to the establishment of a Joint Delivery Officers Group to discuss practical solutions for an access improvement programme. The work of this Group will be closely co-ordinated with the Leicester Shire E-Government Partnership whose members are the County Council, City Council and District Councils.
The County Council is the lead authority for the Leicester Shire E-Government Partnership, which has already secured an additional £1.15m. for a range of improvements in accessibility. This funding has been used so far to develop and link a series of existing projects including the provision of:
- GIS facilities to on-line planning systems and to community portals;
- Direct links from village and district portals to community information;
- A pilot on-line Destination Management System.
4.6 Our priorities for 2003/04 and beyond
To support our access improvement programme we have allocated £450,000 of revenue funding and £500,000 of capital funding for 2003/04. Our priorities are for improvements to the telephone service, online services and face to face access facilities. We intend to work with partners through the LSP Joint Delivery Officers Group to implement a range of improvements. By 2006 this should lead to:
- The introduction of 24 hour automated telephone services for appropriate services;
- Fewer telephone numbers to remember for public services as a whole;
- Extended availability of telephone access including at weekends;
- Greater satisfaction because enquiries are dealt with first time;
- More effective transfer of calls and better call handling arrangements between public agencies;
- One service shop in each town where most enquiries can be resolved without referral;
- Increased use of libraries as multi-agency help points;
- 31 more transactions available electronically;
- A portal for each village in the county;
- Web sites for young people, public safety, public transport and health;
- New arrangements for the use of email using a small number of email addresses with parallel telephone numbers;
- A joint A-Z to signpost all locally delivered services;
- Changes within public organisations including better staff training and improved information systems.
We have also made a commitment to achieve electronic delivery of all services capable of such delivery by the end of 2005 (subject to the Government making resources available).
The priorities for 2003/04 to meet these longer term goals include:
- An options appraisal leading to improvements to telephone call handling, the introduction of automated services and fewer numbers for the public to remember;
- Beginning to extend opening hours for telephone contact;
- Further investment in language line to provide on the spot translation;
- The establishment of two model service shops;
- Projects to provide information points in new libraries in Measham, Broughton Astley and Barwell;
- Beginning the implementation of a programme of extended opening hours for service shops and help points;
- A redesigned County Council web site;
- 10 additional ICT self help points in urban areas;
- 30 new service transactions available via the web site;
- The appointment of a Customer Care Manager;
- The implementation of a Customer Care Charter.
The e-Government Partnership’s plans for 2003/04 include:
- Development of a portal to provide information to young people;
- Linking databases to provide complete community information;
- Providing technological infrastructure to support joint delivery of services;
- On line planning for all partners;
- Further development of Leicestershire Care Online.
The proportion of our public buildings that were accessible to people with disabilities was above average in 2001/02, though it fell short of the performance of the best 25% of authorities. We have plans to make substantial improvements on this indicator over the forthcoming years, achieving 100% accessibility by 2005/06.
Priority – To Improve the Access to and Quality of Libraries
4.7 Progress to Date
An inspection of the Library Service was carried out by the Audit Commission in 2002 as part of the CPA process. This judged the service to be "Good with uncertain prospects for improvement". This judgement was partly based on the uncertainty around the imminent creation of the new Community Services Department which includes the library service. This is now complete, and the internal restructuring of the library service itself is underway so that, by the end of 2003, library services will be clearly repositioned in the new Department. This follows several years in which we have gradually been addressing areas where we were underperforming i.e. a low number of book issues per library, low expenditure on book stock, low numbers of visitors and a high number of premises open for limited hours.
We continued to address these issues in 2002/03 by:
- Improving opening hours to meet national standards;
- Providing an interactive website for borrowers to request and renew books;
- Improving customer care training of staff.
4.8 Priorities for 2003/04 and beyond
We will continue these improvements by:
- Replacing two libraries by the end of 2004;
- Extending the model of multi use premises to the new libraries;
- Implementing the second phase of interactive borrower services giving 24/7 access;
- Working to identify non users of the service;
- Increasing the number of library visits from 4,420 to 5,350 per 1,000 population by 2005/06 (see table below);
- Increasing overall public satisfaction with libraries to 85% in 2003/04;
- Meeting a further 8 of the Public Library Standards.
Priority – To Promote County and District Local Strategic Partnerships as Key Partnerships
4.9 Progress to Date
A countywide Local Strategic Partnership has been set up to oversee the preparation of the countywide community strategy. The Leicestershire LSP includes a representative of each of the seven District based LSPs. In accordance with our commitment to promote LSPs as key partnerships we have appointed executive members to each of the District LSPs.
4.10 Priorities for 2003/04 and beyond
We intend to undertake a number of activities to improve linkages between LSPs and with the Leicester Shire Economic Partnership (LSEP) including:
- Establishing an officer co-ordinating group;
- Assessing partnership and working groups to ensure effective links are made with LSPs and duplication is avoided;
- Establishing a clear identity for the LLSP and improvements in communication with a wider forum of stakeholders;
- Developing a shared set of indicators for monitoring County and District Community Strategies;
- Improving arrangements for sharing information including the results of consultation;
- An annual stakeholder development day shared by LSPs and the LSEP.
Priority – To meet the national Equality Standard
4.11 Progress to Date
In 2001/02, we were in the best 25% of comparable authorities for the percentage of racial incidents that resulted in further action (100%). We also had above average performance for the low number of racial incidents recorded by the authority. However we are concerned that this may reflect a level of underreporting and are taking steps to investigate this, including the joint appointment with District Councils of a post to develop monitoring of racial incidents. Information on racial incidents in schools was available from 2002/03. A draft Race Equality Scheme was published in 2002. It is now being revised with more realistic targets.
We have made slow progress in adopting the Equality Standard for Local Government and we did not meet our target of achieving level 3 in 2002/03. Audits of our performance against the Commission for Racial Equality standards and the disability elements of the new Equality Standard have been undertaken. These cover both service delivery and employment matters.
4.12 Priority for 2003/04 and beyond
We acknowledged in our CPA self-assessment that we need to strengthen our approach to equalities, particularly at the corporate level. We will tackle this in 2003/04. A revised long-term target to achieve Level 5 of the Equality Standard by 2007 has been set.
Although we will give priority to the areas described above we also intend to continue making improvements in other service areas that contribute to improving the quality of life in Leicestershire. These are:
4.13 Opportunities for Young People
We believe that young people in Leicestershire should be provided with a wide range of opportunities to develop their full potential, that channel their aspirations and energies positively, and that problems are tackled which might limit their progress and future well-being. Other Sections of the Performance Plan and relevant service plans contain more information on services to children and young people.
We aim to take a consistent, evidence based approach to service development, building on what works and what is already being done through mainstream services and through multi-disciplinary partnerships and funding arrangements, such as the Children and Young People Strategic Partnership for Leicestershire, Sure Start, the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership, Children’s Fund, Connexions, Youth Offending Teams, the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy and the Drug and Alcohol Action Team.
The Behaviour Support Plan for schools provides a framework for a consistent approach to managing student behaviour, reducing exclusions and addressing bullying. Schools are also given additional support and guidance to help them address racism where it occurs.
During 2003/04 we will be developing a Preventative Strategy to promote positive outcomes for children and young people and prevent negative outcomes for them both as children and young people, and later in adult life. It will include the proposed youth crime prevention strategy and will be developed through the Children and Young Peoples Strategic Partnership for Leicestershire.
In addition to mainstream County Council and partner budgets and Government funding, the County Council has allocated £250,000 in the 2003/04 budget to support priority spend on initiatives for young people. These will be developed and implemented in the light of consultation with young people, including the outcomes of village appraisal, and consultation on the Community Strategy.
4.14 Developing Cultural and Leisure Facilities
Despite significant falls in numbers compared with 2000/01, we remained the top-performing authority in 2001/02 for the numbers of visits to museums. We want to encourage people to participate in a wide range of cultural, sporting and leisure pursuits.
In 2002/03 we:
- Produced, in partnership with other agencies, a Cultural Strategy which will act as the framework for the delivery of libraries, sports, arts, heritage, parks and recreational services in the County;
- Refurbished the Melton Carnegie Museum on time and on budget;
- Improved access to museum and archive collections by launching three digitisation projects and opening the Collections Resource Centre at Barrow upon Soar;
- Brought professional arts into rural communities, attracting audiences totalling 7000 with the Rural and Community Touring Scheme;
Although we did not meet our target for the number of school pupils attending museums owing to changes in national admission charges we are still in the top quartile for visitor numbers.
In 2003/04 we will:
- Explore the potential for introducing an external partner at Snibston Discovery Park with the aim of improving its commercial viability;
- Develop proposals for improvements at Market Harborough Museum;
- Agree the Action Plan for the Cultural Strategy and align it with the Community Strategy;
- Continue to improve access to museums and archive collections through further digitisation and direct access;
- Help to provide new shared use and other sports facilities through New Opportunities Fund programmes.
4.15 Protecting the Environment
We want to continue to improve the attractiveness of Leicestershire as a place to live and work now, whilst taking account of the needs of future generations.
In 2002/03 we:
- Extended our successful SHIRE grants scheme with the integration of a number of other community grant schemes;
- Commenced work on the redevelopment of visitor facilities at Bosworth Battlefield Country Park;
- Obtained funding to extend the northern section of the Ashby Canal.
In 2003/04 we will:
- Commence revision of the Minerals and the Waste Local Plans;
- Prepare an environmental strategy for Leicestershire;
- Seek funding to develop Measham Museum;
- Build up, through community networks, the volunteer support for heritage, wildlife and archaeology;
- Establish the statutory Local Access Forum and begin work on the Rights of Way Improvement Plan.
4.16 Promoting Economic Well Being
We want to promote the economic well being of the County by working with our partners to attract new and sustainable employment opportunities and support local businesses. The Leicester-Shire Economic Partnership (LSEP) is the major channel through which we, and our partners, can focus our efforts in this direction.
The County Council played a leading role in the creation of the Partnership in 2002/03 and we have re-organised our internal arrangements to align our economic programmes with those of the Leicester and Leicestershire Economic Strategy.
In 2002/03 we:
- Provided financial and staff support to establish the LSEP;
- Launched, in partnership, a new magazine, "Business Issues" targeted at the business community;
- Constructed additional accommodation at the Loughborough Technology Centre;
- Produced, with the LSEP, a range of economic research information;
- Produced tourism brochures and helped organise the annual Tourism Awards and Conference.
In 2003/04 we will:
- Undertake a range of projects to help implement the Leicester and Leicestershire Economic Regeneration Strategy;
- Work with partners to establish a new company to provide inward investment and promotion services to the County and City;
- Reassess the future of our employment support projects;
- Work with the LSEP on the relevant actions in the Community Strategy, including improving conditions for the most disadvantaged communities in Leicestershire.
4.17 Parish Councils
As well as the increasing amount of partnership working with District Councils we also have an active interest in supporting and taking account of the views of communities expressed through their parish councils and other local groups. Our involvement with issues of concern to parish councils is mainly through our continuing and significant support for the development and implementation of village appraisals and parish plans. We fund a number of Community Development Officers who work with local groups to complete appraisals and plans. These groups work to an agreed protocol which ensures that proper consideration is given to issues raised, and improves communication of these issues to the service providers. Many of the latter are County Council departments all of whom have designated contact officers who are expected to respond constructively to issues raised. We are currently considering how this relationship can be further improved, possibly by incorporating issues raised by appraisals into the relevant departmental service plans and our budgeting process.
Page Last Updated: 30 June 2003