Proposed Performance Improvement Objectives 2023 to 2024

Closed 26 Apr 2023

Opened 1 Mar 2023

Feedback updated 26 Jul 2023

We asked


The Local Government Act (NI) requires Councils to ensure continuous improvement whilst carrying out their functions and delivering 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 our 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 2023 to 2024.

The consultation closed on 26 April 2023 and 70 people/organisations responded. An analysis of the results shows that 83 to 90% 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 2023/24.

We did

Summary of additional comments and feedback from service areas concerned:

Objective 1 - We will reduce the number of days’ sick absence lost per employee - 83% agreed we should do this

You said

Suggestions from feedback fell into the following broad areas: ideas for the introduction of policies such as hybrid working; improvements to the current sickness management procedure; improvements to employees’ working environment with particular emphasis on ways of reducing stress; focusing on ways to help reduce workloads including better handover processes when staff are on sick absence and the use of agency staff; more focus on supporting staff through the use of various health and wellbeing initiatives and ideas around introducing incentives for good attendance.

We did

Council is committed to reducing absence levels and has made progress on the delivery of training. Support has been provided in particular, to front line areas to ensure absence management continues to be a priority to reduce the impact on service delivery. 

Council offers a wide range of proactive health and well-being initiatives to help support and positively influence staff with mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. This includes the launch of a portal which can be accessed from work or home with a wealth of information on a wide range of health and wellbeing topics including stress management, nutrition and exercise. Other initiatives include: financial wellbeing; how to stop smoking; cancer awareness; CPR awareness; planning for retirement; dementia and carers information sessions plus; physical activity taster sessions.

The Staff Health and Wellbeing Committee has developed the 2023/2024 Staff Health and Wellbeing Action Plan. This includes providing a staff directory card to all employees to mark Mental Health Awareness Week in May. The card provides key contact details and signposting information for a range of services and organisations.

Council continues to roll out its mental health support training and has increased the number of mental health first-aiders available to staff.

Trends remain largely unchanged with chest/respiratory the main reason for absence.  Reviewing the annual 2022/23 targets for staff absences, and in comparison with the mid-year position 2021/22, Council has seen improvement in long term absence, however short term absence has increased. Council therefore recognises the need to continue to prioritise this objective. 

There is also an acknowledgement this objective is a long-term for the organisation. It has therefore been carried forward to 2023/24.

Objective 2 - We will improve processing times for building control and planning applications - 87% agreed we should do this

You said

Feedback from respondents on this objective broadly acknowledged that processing times especially for planning, could be improved. Suggestions and comments fell into the following broad areas: suggestions to make improvements to the new planning portal; ideas around the existing processes and procedures such as - more training for staff, better equipment and accommodation, better reallocation of work when staff are absent, less regulation, a better phone answering service. There was also a comment suggesting interactions with Councillors could be improved and comments that Council had other more pressing concerns such as mental health issues and deprivation in the Borough.

We did

Whilst Building Control Department continues to meet the statutory target for building control domestic and non-domestic resubmissions assessed within 14 days, it acknowledges that this falls below the required processing times for domestic and non-domestic full plan applications.

The resulting performance for Building Control has been due to an exceptionally high volume of applications received in advance of the introduction of the new Building Regulations in Northern Ireland. In addition, the software provider has been slow to respond to development needs in respect of communications regarding Council Property Certificates and payments.

Changes to the Planning section of Council’s website have recently been carried out to make it more user friendly. Further changes are being considered. The information on the website includes guidance for businesses on how to obtain the pre-planning application service.

The Protocol relating to the Operation of the Planning & Regulatory Services Committee (P&RSC) requires Elected Members to consider each recommendation with an open mind to reach their decision. This includes considering input from officers and third parties, including consultees, objectors and supporters of the proposal. The Protocol doesn’t currently restrict the number of deferrals a Member can request but this could be considered when it is next reviewed.

Council is working hard to quickly resolve the current technical problems relating to the new Portal - further staff training will follow.

Government is leading a Planning Improvement Programme aimed at making the planning process more efficient and effective. This may mean less regulation. 

Council is also implementing its own Service Improvement Plan which includes a review of the telephone system. Staff have recently received new laptops and mobile telephones. Accommodation is included as part of Council’s current review of assets and estate.

Whilst Planning Department continues to meet the statutory target for planning enforcement cases progressed to conclusion within 39 weeks, it acknowledges this fall below meeting the required processing times for local and major planning applications.

Building Control and Planning departments both have a number of staff vacancies and long term absences. However, recruitment discussions and sick management procedures are ongoing.

Despite these significant challenges, at mid-year reporting, the Building Control Department of ABC Council was ranked in the top three for delivery of new dwellings (according to LPS Statistics). And in the same period, the Planning Department was in the top three for processing major applications and enforcement cases.

Council recognises the need for continued improvement, and the need to concentrate on processing times for Building Control and Planning applications.  This objective has therefore been carried forward to 2023/24 as an area for improvement.

Objective 3 - We will develop a net zero carbon strategy and agree recommendations to begin to reduce Council’s emissions in a cost and carbon effective way - 83% agreed we should do this

You said

Responses to this performance improvement objective fell broadly into the following areas: concerns that the objective may be too costly to implement and could increase hardship; that more information is needed to help inform citizens and businesses on the subject such as seminars and consultations. There were many suggestions for ways that Council could reach net zero such as: maintaining hybrid working, better utilisation of empty buildings, introducing car sharing, turning off lights and computers and introducing hydrogen bin-lorries. There were suggestions for buildings such as the introduction of smart heating. Suggestions around transportation included: more cycle paths, more LPG vehicles, and more electric charging points. Suggestions on electricity generation included: using solar panels, wind turbines, repurposing water wheels, and using rivers to generate power. There were also general ideas which included: planting more trees, cutting less grass and introducing rain gardens.

We did

The Climate Agenda is a key priority for Council and is a new focus for Council’s Transformation Agenda. Through the development and implementation of a Net Zero Carbon Strategy Council aims to improve and complement existing sustainable development activity and tackle climate change over the next decade. This includes bringing social, economic and environmental resources together for the benefit of the Borough.  In addition, the development of a Climate Adaptation Plan will seek to mitigate the impact of climate change on Council’s own resources and service delivery.

A number of climate related projects, programmes and/or initiatives are currently being considered or delivered by different Council departments. These include:

  • Net Zero Carbon Strategy
  • Climate Adaptation Plan
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging Points
  • Solar PV Farm on a former landfill site at Terryhoogan
  • HGV Roadmap Feasibility Study
  • Decarbonisation Roadmap at Employment Zones
  • Climate Procurement Project

Work has continued throughout 2022-23 to develop Council’s baseline carbon audit to support the Climate Change Strategy.

Council recognises there is much more work to be done in this area and therefore agree the need to continue to prioritise this objective. There is an acknowledgement this will be a long-term objective for the organisation.  It therefore has been carried forward to 2023/24.

Objective 4 - We will improve our communications to our customers on waste management - 90% agreed we should do this

You said

Feedback from respondents on this objective fell into the following broad areas: comments that acknowledged the service had already improved, especially the move away from Bryson recycling; suggestions around the use of technology to improve communications such as social media, an app or a portal and the need to improve information and navigation on Council’s website. Other ideas on communications included using mail-drops, billboards and bin stickers. There were comments on improving the service itself such as: better information on opening times of recycling centres and improving the phone system.  There were suggestions on carrying out more recycling such as the use of vending machines for recycling plastic bottles and recycling bicycles; comments about the need to improve general education and involving more young people and schools and a comment related to the strike.

We did

There are several actions being taken within the waste management service aimed at improving communication with customers and making services more efficient:

  • A Communications Working group has been set up meeting monthly to address concerns and issues.
  • The waste management service is undergoing a transformational change aimed at making the service more efficient.
  • A review of the Recycling Centres is being undertaken aimed at harmonising operations.
  • Better co-ordination of education and promotional resources including a review of the methods used to communicate key messages.
  • Promotion of the ABC residents’ app - this will allow for more relevant targeted messaging.
  • Introduction of software which shows real-time refuse collection data etc. This software allows for customer reporting which will improve our communication process with residents.
  • Co-ordinated communication checklist to ensure waste management messaging is appropriate and widespread.
  • Investing in new vehicles and resources to ensure we have a fit-for-purpose fleet.
  • We are researching Deposit Return schemes.
  • Supporting a Reuse Network and working with other Council departments and external organisations to develop new opportunities e.g. Repair Cafes, pop-up clothing shops, community repaint schemes, re-use of items at the recycling centres.
  • Reviewing the frequently asked questions section on the corporate website to provide relevant, user-friendly information that can be linked to social media posts.
  • Reviewing all the Environmental Services information content on the corporate website and improving navigation.

We also asked you for feedback on where we could improve generally.

You said

Feedback on this request for suggestions on how to improve from the general public fell into the following broad areas:

  • Requests for more street cleaning, litter picking and grass cutting, and related comments on failures to empty bins on time. Related to this the request that compost bags be delivered (as they are by other councils) and for greater fines for dog fouling.
  • Related to this was feedback that rural areas in particular felt neglected; bin collections and litter picking not being so good in these areas as well as fewer events.
  • Comments on various aspects of South Lake Leisure Centre such as car parking problems, overcrowding, classes being cancelled at last minute, staffing issues. Related requests for better toilets, more access to the pool and more to be available for babies and toddlers.
  • There were negative comments about the appearance of particular areas/facilities such as: Kinnego Marina, Maghery Country Park and Lurgan Town Centre. And comments about the lack of, or need to upgrade, some community centres, particularly in deprived areas.
  • There were many suggestions for improvements in communication both externally with stakeholders and residents, and internally between departments. Related to this was the suggestion that more public consultations should take place.
  • There were also a number of comments regarding internal structures and paygrades with the suggestion that staff pay should be aligned with private sector. Comments about too much bureaucracy and that the ABC merger had not been a success. There was also the suggestion that Council’s culture needed to improve.
  • Other individual comments fell broadly into environmental issues such as: that more priority should be given to environmental issues; more electric charging points; introduction of community fridges and more active travel plans.
  • Other individual comments unrelated to work carried out by Council included suggestions that the benefits system needs looked at as well as the way that selection for schools is carried out.

Council welcomes all feedback to the consultation and appreciates the consideration given by stakeholders and residents to the proposed Performance Improvement Objectives.

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


Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council is conducting a consultation to seek your views on its proposed Performance Improvement Objectives for 2023 to 2024.

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 the performance improvement objectives have a positive impact on the quality of life for stakeholders across the Borough – that residents, businesses and all stakeholders are confident of 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 which Council wishes to include in its Performance Improvement Plan for 2023 to 2024; the Equality Policy Screening form and; the Rural Needs Impact Assessment.

The consultation closes on Wednesday 26 April 2023

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

  • By email to:
  • By phone: 0300 0300 900 and ask for the Improvement Manager in the Strategy & Performance Department
  • In writing to: Strategy & Performance Department, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council,  Old Armagh 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 printed from the relevant link in the Related section at the bottom of this screen. These can be returned to any Council office above or by email to

Please return your response no later than Wednesday 26 April 2023.

Why your views matter

We are keen to ensure the Performance Improvement Objectives we include in our Performance Improvement Plan for the year ahead, have a positive impact on the quality of life for stakeholders across the Borough. 

We welcome your feedback, comments or suggestions on how we might improve our services, and in particular, any proposals you might have for new performance improvement objectives.

What happens next

All responses to the consultation will be analysed and feedback used to inform Council's Performance Improvement Plan for 2023 to 2024. Results from the survey and actions we intend to take will be published here by 21 July 2023.