Draft Performance Improvement Objectives 2022 to 2023

Closed 8 Apr 2022

Opened 8 Feb 2022

Feedback updated 5 Jul 2022

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.

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. With this in mind, Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon Borough Council – we - carried out a consultation to seek views on our draft performance improvement objectives for years 2022 to 2023.

The consultation closed on 8 April 2022 and 57 people/organisations responded. An analysis of the results shows that 91% to 95% of respondents agreed with our proposed objectives giving us assurances that our proposals are appropriate for the year ahead. 

You said

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

In the section below, we provide a brief update on how Council currently addresses the matters raised from the feedback. We recognise there is more work to be done and are committed to improving in these areas within the Performance improvement Plan 2022/23. 

 

We did

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 - 91% of respondents agreed we should do this   

You said

You said that council services should be extended beyond those with autism and their carers to other groups with special needs; that support is needed for a full range of age groups from under 5 years of age to adults; there was an emphasis on the popularity of swimming and suggestions of various sports that would be appealing to those with autism including parent- children-together activities along with suggestions for improvements for facilities.

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 a range of Inclusive Services is available from the Council’s website at https://www.armaghbanbridgecraigavon.gov.uk/inclusive-information/ 

Our Health and Recreation Department in partnership with Disability Sport NI and Live Active NI, offer a range of programmes across the Borough for example:

  • The Inclusive Sport and Leisure Programme works with children and adults with disabilities e.g. Wheelie Active Club, South Lake Disability Sports Club, Inclusive Gym and Inclusive Cycling Programmes. 
  • The Get Out, Get Active Programme is open to everyone and inclusive of people with a disability or lifelong health condition.

In addition, Council’s Summer Schemes are offered to children with a range of disabilities including Autism - All Stars is for children (referred through Southern Health & Social Care Trust) who require a high level of support.  Advertised through our summer brochure, the Disability Sport NI Scheme is an inclusive scheme suitable for children who can attend independently.  Our Autism in Sport Programme is delivered three times a year in Dromore or Richhill Community Centre, details of this can be found on the GetActive ABC Facebook page.

Examples of other services offered by Council include:

  • A sensory room in South Lake Leisure Centre
  • Sensory soft play sessions are currently being piloted in Gulliver’s, Orchard Leisure Centre on Sundays.
  • The Orchard Leisure Centre offers swimming sessions at the weekend to people with a disability. They are offered a lane to themselves with a carer if required.
  • Play parks are designed to be inclusive providing play opportunities for children regardless of their needs and abilities.
  • Concessionary charging is also available.

Key front-line staff have been trained in autism awareness and this remains a priority.  The use of the JAM Card is welcome in all Council facilities.  The Armagh Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre and the Navan Centre, have been recognised with Autism Impact Awards for introducing autism-friendly improvements. 

Alongside the actions within the Performance Improvement Plan for those with Autism and their carers, Council 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.

PIO 2 - We will increase the number of people participating in sport and physical activity from groups least likely to participate, and maintain or increase the number of quality accreditations for outdoor and indoor spaces – 95% of respondents agreed we should do this  

You said

You also suggested that Council run activities for mixed ability; that activities should be more permanent (not rotating programmes); that there should be more activities throughout the year and; you highlighted the need for financial support for staff and capital costs associated with running programmes.  

Other suggestions included: activities for balance and stability; confidence building activities; general health and wellbeing activities; sensory related activities for those with autism; nature trails; greenways and; walking groups.

The following groups of people were highlighted as needing attention: under-fives, older people, those with chronic illnesses, with mental health disabilities and autism groups.

We did

As part of a collective effort, the Get Moving ABC Partnership has been set up to positively impact the health and wellbeing of the people living in the ABC Council area.  The focus for year two will be on increasing the number of people participating in sport and physical activity from groups least likely to participate, but work to promote physical activity for everyone, will continue.

Council also works in partnership with Disability Sport NI to deliver the Get Out Get Active Programme which targets people with health conditions and also the Inclusive Sport and Leisure Programme with sessions for children which includes Autism in Sport, Wheelie Active and Inclusive Cycling. For more information contact Ryan McQuillan on rmcquillan@liveactiveni.co.uk and Colleen Connolly on colleenconnolly@dsni.co.uk

Following a recent Family Activity Consultation, officers are reviewing what activities are available for families to be active together.

Council has six Changing Places Toilets, a further two new facilities are to be registered and there are five additional Changing Places in the Borough.  Council is also in the process of developing a Changing Places Policy.

Inclusive play is an important part of Council’s Play Strategy. A fundamental aspect of ensuring accessibility to play for all is the need to ensure that play areas offer opportunities for children and young people to play together regardless of individual ability or disability levels. Inclusive play means more than providing physical access to play areas or open spaces.  In order to be truly inclusive a play area must be open and accessible for children regardless of their needs and abilities.

PIO 3 - We will reduce the number of days’ sick absence lost per employee - 91% of respondents agreed we should do this  

You said

You suggested that more support for Council staff who are full-time carers and for those who are ill or have undergone surgery, was required; that the background to sickness absence should be more fully investigated; and that pressure on staff and the use of consultants may be creating low morale.  Ideas for reducing sickness included encouraging staff to use leisure facilities more often and team building.

We did

Council has developed an action plan in response to a staff Health and Well Being survey which will be implemented over the next 12 months. Actions it this include:

  • An online portal dedicated to employee mental and physical wellbeing.  This went live in May 2022. Staff are able to access the portal at work and at home and the resource is intended to enable staff to access health and wellbeing information and support; improve wellbeing at work and at home; and learn about our Council’s health and wellbeing initiatives, activities and events.
  • Continued roll out of training including: training managers to recognise the signs of stress in the workplace; Absence Management training; and increasing the number of mental health first aiders. We also encourage employees to access in-house resources and INSPIRE counselling. 
  • We continue to train existing and new staff on relevant policies with regards to Dignity in the Workplace and the Council’s Code of Conduct.
  • We continue to support new and existing employees with health conditions and disabilities through referrals to USEL and the Workable Programme.

In addition, Council continues to ensure a fair approach to the support of employees in balancing domestic and work responsibilities. Entitlement to types of leave of absence from work is set out in the “Leave Entitlement Policy” (taking into consideration the relevant employment legislation).

  Long term absence continues to be a challenge but working with the employee, Council’s occupational health service provider and management, we will continue to facilitate those recovering from serious illnesses to return to work. We will do this gradually through the implementation of reasonable adjustments and in line with the Disability Discrimination Legislation.

PIO 4 - We will increase the information available to the public on Council’s agreed service standards and how well we are performing in relation to these - 93% of respondents agreed we should do this  

You said

It should be noted responses to this objective were varied and included: criticisms of swimming arrangements at Portadown and Lurgan, and gym classes at South Lake and concerns about access to services for people with additional needs. Communication was highlighted, in particular perceptions of poor communication about the non-collection of bins; it was also suggested that better communication to Council’s own staff was needed.

There was a comment that service standards should be advertised widely; that anything that can add value would be welcome; the need for transparency about services; a need for residents to be listened to; and that the focus should be on primary areas such as infrastructure and environment.

There were also positive comments relating to bin collections and the Armagh leisure centre - particularly an autism initiative that has taken place.

We did

An agreed set of service standards were approved by Council in March 2022. These have been set to help customers understand what they can expect from certain services across Council.

In line with Council’s performance reporting arrangements, these will be reviewed quarterly by senior management, and a mid-year and annual performance will be reported to the Performance & Audit Committee. Performance against the service standards will also be included within our annually published Performance Self-Assessment Report.

It should be noted that there are a number of services which the public still perceive as Council functions such as: street lighting; maintenance of public roads and; septic tank cleaning. These normally fall to other central government departments or agencies such as the Department of Infrastructure Roads Service, NI Water and the Rates Collection Agency. Where residents contact Council in relation to any other non-Council services, they are referred to the correct body via contact details normally available on the NI Direct website.

PIO 5 - We will implement recommendations from the Building Control and Planning Service reviews, and improve processing times for building control and planning applications - 93% of respondents agreed we should do this  

You said

Your feedback included criticism about the planning process: you said that communication was poor; that there seemed to be undue influence over planning applications; perceptions that buildings are being erected without notification or permission; and that the overall standard of service was not value for money.

We did

Council’s Planning Department is in the process of implementing a service improvement plan which will address a number of issues identified in the consultation responses, including matters relating to customer care, transparency and processing times.  A new planning Enforcement Strategy will also be brought forward.

It should be noted that a number of the issues raised are common to all planning authorities across Northern Ireland, as highlighted by the recent report produced by the Northern Ireland Audit Office.

The Council is working closely with a range of organisations including the Department for Infrastructure in order to consider and address these issues.

PIO 6 - We will improve our understanding of Council’s carbon footprint, energy and resource consumption to inform the development of a Sustainable Development and Climate Change Strategy - 91% of respondents agreed we should do this  

You said

Your responses included traffic related ideas such as working with schools to get children walking and cycling to school; and supporting the roll out of electric vehicles and charging points. You also suggested reducing fuel consumption, using renewables and solar panels and allowing people to continue a hybrid form of working.

Suggestions were also made for improvements to recycling at recycling centres; working with third party suppliers and businesses to reduce use of disposable items/single use plastics and; to focus on litter control by involving schools and community groups and; planting more trees.

We did

Council currently implements a number of actions to contribute to this performance improvement, including:

  • Working in partnership with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s Eco Schools programme and providing talks to schools on environmental issues. 
  • Sustrans is also a partner providing information on sustainable transport, including the consultation suggestion of cycling to school initiatives.
  • We also work with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful to facilitate the roll out of the Big Spring Clean and Live Here Love Here/Adopt a Street. Click here for more information www.liveherelovehere.org
  • Roll out of tree planting and bog restoration projects throughout the borough, as well as a pilot wildflower planting project which will include planting along grass verges.
  • The Affordable Warmth Scheme is available to private landlords and home owners within certain criteria.  Grant funding is available to improve the efficiency of housing. https://www.nihe.gov.uk/Housing-Help/Affordable-Warmth-Boiler-Replacement
  • A Single Use Plastics initiative is being implemented within Council buildings to ensure we are compliant with the Single Use Plastic Directive.
  • The Council will also be bringing forward the second stage of its Local Development Plan later this year. This will include within it Planning Policies to address sustainability matters.
  • Council is planning to increase the number of electric car charging points particularly at leisure centres.
  • We are also assessing the continuation of the working from home/blended approach for staff working as a positive effect on our carbon footprint. 
  • Council also has a small electric fleet which it intends increasing in line with plans to decarbonise our fleet.
  • Renewable and sustainable solutions will be incorporated within buildings where appropriate.
  • Council currently have some small-scale generation stations which will be built upon to ensure that we future-proof council assets

Council’s Economic Development Services Department provide support and advice on a number of funding streams available towards a greener economy.  Further information is available by contacting: economicdevelopment@armaghbanbridgecraigavon.gov.uk

Equality

The comments received in relation to the Equality Screening exercise suggest that a small number of respondents have queried both the Council’s willingness and ability to address issues relating to the nine equality groups.  However, in accordance with Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 the Council will continue to assess the impact of its policies on the promotion of equality of opportunity and good relations and take appropriate action where necessary.

Rural Needs Impact

In terms of the Rural Needs Impact – 79% of responses received agreed that this will have a positive impact on the rural needs within our Borough.  In accordance with the Rural Needs Act (NI) 2016 the Council will continue to have due regard to the social and economic needs of those living in rural areas when developing, adopting, implementing or revising policies, strategies and plans and when designing and delivering service

Overview

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is conducting a consultation to seek your views on its Draft Performance Improvement Objectives 2022 to 2023.

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 City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is keen to ensure performance improvement objectives have a positive impact on the quality of life for stakeholders across the Borough – that residents, businesses and stakeholders are confident of the Council’s commitment to deliver services that are efficient, economic and of a high standard.

The purpose of this consultation is to seek your views on: the Draft Performance Improvement Objectives for 2022 to 2023; the Equality Policy Screening form and; the Rural Needs Impact Assessment.

We welcome your feedback and suggestions on how we can make improvements.

The consultation period closes on Friday 8 April 2022

You can request alternative formats of the questionnaire by contacting the Performance Team using the details below:

By email          performance@armaghbanbridgecraigavon.gov.uk

By telephone   0300 0300 900

In writing to     Performance Team

                         Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council

                         Old Armagh City Hospital

                         39 Abbey Street

                         Armagh BT61 7DY

Paper copies of the consultation are also available from our Council offices:

  • Armagh Office, The Palace Demesne, Friary Road, Armagh BT60 4EL 
  • Banbridge Office, Civic Building, Downshire Road, Banbridge BT32 3JY
  • Craigavon Office, Craigavon Civic & Conference Centre, Lakeview Road, Craigavon BT64 1AL

A paper copy can also be downloaded from the relevant link in the Related section at the bottom of this screen.  

Paper copies can be returned to any Council office, to the Performance Team at the address above or, by email to performance@armaghbanbridgecraigavon.gov.uk

Please return your response no later than Friday 8 April 2022.

If you require assistance then please do not hesitate to contact us.

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, economic and of a high standard.

We welcome your feedback, comments or suggestions on how we might improve our services, and in particular, any proposals for new performance 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 2022 to 2023. Results from the survey and actions we intend to take will be published here by the end of August 2022.