Today, The Democratic Society (Demsoc) and the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) published a report titled Change at the Council: Independent Review of Governance for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Funded by the Local Government Association (LGA), this report is the result of months of research conducted by talking to residents, councillors, council officers and partners about the good and bad aspects of the current system, and how it can be improved. We have looked at the way that the Council makes decisions and who is involved in making those decisions. These conversations, survey responses and interviews, as well as previous experience of work that CfPS and Demsoc have done, has allowed us to write twelve principles and seven recommendations for the Council going forward.
- Connecting with residents
- Focusing on what matters
- Listening to every voice
- Acting with integrity
- Involving before deciding
- Communicating what we’re doing
- Inviting residents to take part
- Being clearly accountable
- Responding fairly to everyone’s needs
- Working as a team
- Managing responsibly
- Having the support we need
- Incorporate the twelve principles into the Council’s key policies, strategies and partnership arrangements, including the Constitution, organisational, officer and member development programmes, as the foundation for a new and positive culture
- Hold a Borough-wide conversation to decide the strategic direction and governance arrangements for the Council
- Establish a citizens’ assembly, along with similar “deliberative” process as part of the Borough-wide conversation on the strategic direction and future governance of the Council
- Establish a “listening committee” for councillors to hear directly from residents in an open format
- Set up a commission to review how Borough-wide and area governance will work in the future, involving residents and partners to consider options
- Take practical steps to engage with local government good practice
- Use the Annual Government Statement as the basis for an ongoing, wider conversation about how governance can be improved
These have been explored and explained in detail in the report, a link to which you can find at the bottom of this post.
We do not expect that the recommendations set out in our report will be followed exactly by the Council, but that they will work with the community and use this report as a first step and framework to making changes that are best for everyone involved. We hope that the dialogue with residents started by this report will be continued, and they will have joint ownership of any changes that are put in place.
Good governance means doing the right things in the right way. It is about more than just legal systems and policies. It is about being transparent, accountable, involving people, acting with integrity and having the right support. We hope that this report goes some of the way to achieving that.
You can find the full report here.