Draft Performance Improvement Objectives 2021 to 2023

Closed 25 May 2021

Opened 7 May 2021

Feedback updated 1 Oct 2021

We asked

Background

The Local Government Act (NI) requires councils to ensure continuous improvement whilst carrying out their functions and delivering their services. Councils are also required to set improvement objectives and put in place arrangements to achieve these.

Armagh Banbridge Craigavon Borough Council – we - carried out a consultation to seek views from across the Borough on our draft performance improvement objectives for years 2021 to 2023. We are keen to ensure performance objectives have a positive impact on the quality of life for stakeholders across the Borough – that residents, businesses and stakeholders are confident of our commitment to deliver services that are efficient, economic and of a high standard.

We carried out an analysis of the responses and are confident that the rate of agreement to our proposed improvement objectives provides assurances that our proposed performance improvement objectives are appropriate. 35 people/organisations responded to the consultation exercise.

You said

Substantial support was given to the Improvement Objectives with all of the objectives receiving 88-100% support.

The compliments and positive feedback received about staff and performance have been sent to the Head of the relevant department to be communicated to those mentioned. It will also be shared across the organisation on the Council’s internal intranet.

The detailed additional suggestions, comments and feedback have been passed to the relevant departments for consideration in line with business plans and service delivery plans.

We did

The ‘You said’ sections below are a summary of the feedback highlighting the main issues raised.

Summary of additional comments and feedback from service areas concerned:

PIO 1 We will improve the availability of more inclusive services for those with autism and their carers – 97% respondents agreed

You said

You said that council services should be extended beyond those with autism and their carers to other groups with special needs; that it would be helpful to have access to training, placement and employment opportunities for those with autism; that training for staff would be beneficial as well as linking in and consulting with other service providers.

We did

Council provides a wide range of inclusive services not only to assist those with autism and their carers but for service users with a range of disabilities. Information on these is available from the Council’s website at https://www.armaghbanbridgecraigavon.gov.uk/inclusive-information/ Key front-line staff have been trained in autism awareness, and the use of the JAM card is welcome in all Council facilities. The Armagh Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre and the Navan Centre, two of the biggest tourism facilities in the Council area, have been recognised with Autism Impact Awards, for introducing autism-friendly improvements. We will continue to develop relationships with voluntary and public sector partners such as Autism NI and the Southern Health and Social Care Trust through our Disability Action Plan, so that we can respond to carers needs as well as work-experience related requests.

 

PIO 2 We will increase the number of people participating in leisure activities and work with partners to enable everyone to get moving more – 94% respondents agreed

You said

You said that Council could target groups such as mothers and toddlers to encourage attendance at leisure centres; offer a wider range of appealing activities; provide taster sessions; offer discounts to staff and local residents; run bring-a-friend events; raise awareness through campaigns; and work with partner agencies to encourage more people to get involved.

We did

The Get Moving ABC Partnership has been set up to facilitate partnership work to reduce health inequalities and provide targeted opportunities for everyone to be healthy and active. The focus will be on increasing sport and physical activity within homes, communities, workplaces and schools.

The Get Communities Moving strand of the framework aims to create a mass, integrated Get Moving ABC campaign across the Borough to positively inform people, engage and change their attitudes and behaviour towards being active.

In addition, Council’s Play Strategy and Action Plan and Capital Investment Plan outline Council’s commitment to providing further health, cultural and social opportunities to our citizens.

The comments will be reviewed and taken into account when developing new programmes.

 

PIO 3 We will reduce the time it takes to pay suppliers – 100% respondents agreed

You said

You said that it was particularly important to reduce the time it takes to pay small businesses; that it was important to show how we compare; that we should use locally based suppliers; that a review could be carried out; that there may be a need for training; and that it would save Officer time doing follow-up queries.

We did

The finance department has introduced a council-wide policy aimed at maintaining the 12-day average for paying suppliers achieved in 2020/21. The department has provided and continues to provide training for all council departments to ensure payments are made as promptly as possible to suppliers.

 

PIO 4 We will reduce the average number of days’ sickness absence lost per employee – 88% respondents agreed

You said

You said that Council need to follow up and support those who want to get back to work; that illness can be complex; that being able to work from home may improve staff’s overall well-being; to look at reducing the rate of casual episodes; to support managers; and that long absences can skew numbers.

We did

HR has appointed a lead officer dedicated to providing absence management support to supervisors and managers including training on a new absence policy introduced in April 2020. Following a Council-wide wellbeing survey, a number of initiatives have been rolled out focusing in particular on mental health and resilience building for staff. Return-to-work interviews are conducted with all staff following sickness absence with a particular focus on short term absence. Support is provided for those suffering from chronic and serious health conditions returning to work following long absences. Measures include gradual return-to-work flexible working patterns and the introduction of appropriate adjustments in the working environment. The aim of these measures is to help reduce sick absence where possible

 

PIO 5 We will increase the number of council service areas with service standards as an evidence base to inform future performance improvement objectives – 91% respondents agreed

You said

You said that standards need to be consistent across Council; that in a number of places service was good such as at Gosford Park and Loughgall; that in a number of places services could be improved such as with domestic waste recycling; that there weren’t enough leisure services to meet the special needs of adults with disabilities and autism; that we could communicate more positive feedback; that small businesses don’t get any support from Councils; that more needs to be done for small rural communities.

We did

Council already reports on a number of statutory service standards and has also introduced other standards such as those relating to response times for complaint handling. As part of the 2021 to 2023 performance improvement plan, a review of existing service standards is being carried out across Council. Where gaps are identified, new standards will be developed. These will help establish benchmarks from which to measure future performance. Internal guidance for setting and monitoring standards will also be developed.

 

PIO 6 We will implement recommendations from the Building Control and Planning Service reviews and improve processing times for Building Control and Planning applications – 88% agreed

You said

You said that any recommendations should perhaps be considered in light of risks/resources; that there was a perception that staff in these departments are hard to reach; and that it can be a postcode lottery with different approaches across different Councils. 

We did

The Building Control and Planning departments aim to implement the recommendations from their respective service reviews however, these are kept under regular review taking account of challenges such as those presented by Covid-19.

The Building Control team works in partnership with BCNI professional officers’ group to promote a consensus of consistency and uniformity in the interpretation, administration and enforcement of building regulations across Northern Ireland. This also applies to the delivery of functions which are allied to legislation where appropriate.

This Council’s Planning department adopts a consistent approach to the application of Planning legislation and policy in respect of the delivery of its functions.

Contact details for these departments are available from the Council’s website at https://www.armaghbanbridgecraigavon.gov.uk

 

In relation to Equality Screening  

You said

I am very disappointed that 100k has been spent on upgrading Edenvilla Play Park and there are no toddler swings .yes you have 1 disabled swing which a toddler could use but toddlers want to sit up on their own and be pushed on a swing. Disabled swings are semi horizontal. There is a parent and child swing which can be used by a toddler but why did you not have 2 or 3 specific toddler swings like before. You have junior swings. In fact the new playground has totally short changed toddlers in swings/ slide/ climber. I can see children and youths up to 14 years totally taking over this place with no regard for younger children. Young mothers meeting up for social contact and a walk out to the park will be so disappointed with what is available for them in this refurbishment....who made these decisions? A consultation you will reply -but how many replied and how widely was it put out.

The secret garden has one little slide. Mud gardens not fully functional yet and it is closed on Saturday afternoons and Sundays at the weekend when working parents want to use and enjoy with their children

We Did

All Council Play Parks cater for ages groups 2 -14 year olds, in accordance with Councils Play Strategy for the Borough, which is an industry standard and is the case across all Play Parks.

The new harness swing in Edenvilla allows toddlers and children with disabilities to swing and can also be used by those without a disability.

As a Council we want and need to ensure that our Play Parks offer opportunities for children and young people to play together regardless of individual ability or disability levels.

A public consultation for this play park opened on the 9/11/2020 and closed on the 30/11/2020 with 62 people responding to it; the consultation had drawings of the new proposed replacement play park equipment for Edenvilla and people were asked for their views on the proposed replacement equipment.  

On site there is a secret garden which is very suitable for younger children to play. We have agreed to look at placing a toddler swing in this area and the opening hours of this area will  be reviewed in due course.

 

 

Overview

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is conducting a consultation to seek your views on our Draft Performance Improvement Objectives 2021 to 2023.

The draft objectives and consultation questionnaire can be accessed on the Council's website.  These may be found at: www.armaghbanbridgecraigavon.gov.uk/consultations

The consultation period closes on Tuesday 25 May 2021

Our Performance Improvement Objectives reflect how we as an organisation commit to the long-term outcomes identified in the Community Planning process, as well as the work we will do to ensure we continue to provide high quality services.

The Community Planning process has shaped our new Corporate Plan and its vision has been adopted by the Council as its corporate vision. 

The Council welcomes any comments you may wish to make on the draft Performance Improvement Objectives; the draft Equality (EQIA) Policy Screening form; and Rural Needs Impact Assessment. 

Should you wish to receive the document in paper copy or an alternative format please contact us at the email, telephone number or address given below.

Email:            performance@armaghbanbridgecraigavon.gov.uk

Telephone:  0300 0300 900

Address:    Performance Team, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, Old Armagh City Hospital, 39 Abbey Street, ARMAGH, BT61 7DY 

All responses should be returned by email or post using the details above by Tuesday 25 May 2021.

Why your views matter

We are keen to ensure our Performance Improvement Objectives have a positive impact on the quality of life for all stakeholders across the Borough. We want to give surety to residents, businesses and all of our stakeholders that we are fully committed to using our best efforts  to deliver services that are efficient, economical and of an excellent standard.

The purpose of this consultation is to seek your views on our draft Performance Improvement Objectives 2021 to 2023. We welcome your on-going feedback and comments or suggestions on how we might improve our services, and in particular, any proposals for new improvement objectives.

What happens next

All responses to this consultation will be analysed and feedback used to inform the Council's Performance Improvement Plan for 2021 to 2023. Results from the survey and actions we intend to take will be published here by the end of August 2021.