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Proposed key areas to be addressed outlines in an Improvement Framework paper going to the Combined Authority Board


Proposed key areas to be addressed outlines in an Improvement Framework paper going to the Combined Authority Board

Today, an Improvement Framework is published ahead of the Combined Authority Board meeting on Wednesday, 19th of October.

The paper shares with the Combined Authority Board, the interim Chief Executive, Gordon Mitchell’s diagnosis assessment of the Cambridge & Peterborough Combined Authority having undertaken an initial self-assessment exercise; an approach approved by the Board back in July.

It makes six recommendations which if approved by a simple majority, provides a road map for improvement.

It includes the establishment of an Independent Improvement Board to provide support and to challenge, and to ensure that the areas of improvement are delivered and embedded.  It identifies five big issues to be addressed and six key areas for the Combined Authority to focus on over the next three months.

The five big issues identified by the Chief Executive are described as prerequisites for success and the paper calls on the Combined Authority to reset and commit to a step change in these areas:

  1. The development of an overarching strategy for the region – the place – and organising everything behind it.
  2. Establishing clarity of purpose – and for a Mayoral Combined Authority to be clear on where it can add value.
  3. The Mayor developing the right behaviours and a strong outward facing role.
  4. The Combined Authority Board members who are individually sufficiently self-aware and skilled to go beyond local party politics to establish and practice a culture of pragmatism for the benefit of the region.
  5. An effective and efficient organisation, which works as part of the local system.

The report makes clear that to ensure the improvement journey starts in the right direction there are six urgent and important key areas to be addressed:

  1. Establish clarity on the scale of political ambition, develop an overarching strategy for the remainder of this mayoral term, and chart the next steps on that journey. This needs to include defining the purpose and role and in particular where the Combined Authority can add value.
  2. Implement a comprehensive reset of ways of working and align the policy development and pre-board processes to support this
  3. Prioritise work to establish a long-term strategy for transport, an urgent development of a bus strategy and review the role and functioning of the Business Board
  4. Undertake a strategic review of income projections, including options, to secure sustainability and the possibility of taking a more strategic approach to the application of funds for identified priorities
  5. Design and implement an organisation for today’s performance, and with the agility to act on emerging demands and opportunities
  6. Map the approach, capacity and arrangements needed to build effective public relations and influencing delivery operation

To support the delivery of this work an Independent Improvement Board is to be established.  The clearly defined Terms of Reference are set out in appendix 3 of the paper and is suggested to be in place for 12 months.  It is recommended it is made up of an Independent Chair, independent external members and officers who bring appropriate experience and expertise. The role of the Board is to provide external advice, challenge, and expertise, to ensure focus, grip, pace and effective change on key areas identified and to provide assurance to the Combined Authority Board and external agencies of the progress on delivering the key outcomes and associated activity set out in the Improvement plan.

The Independent Improvement Board is supported by key representatives from across the Authority and region to help drive the changes recommended in the paper.

Gordon Mitchel, interim Chief Executive of the Cambridgeshire Peterborough Combined Authority said

“I have been employed to do a very specific job for the Combined Authority, to review the challenges identified it faces and seek to provide reassurance to Government that the Combined Authority is not only fit for purpose but has the political will and ambition to accept the recommendations laid out in this paper.  I am not suggesting this is an easy read for those it speaks to but how the Combined Authority feels about itself at the end of this process is vital because it impacts on its reputation, confidence and ability to deliver.

“My assessment and recommendations are aimed at creating a Combined Authority with strong vision and a strategy that allows it to speak as one for the region, has a functioning Board that is focused on delivering for the region through worthwhile healthy and informed debates, makes the most of the potential and influence an elected Mayoral role provides, improves the moral, retention and recruitment of its committed, excellent staff.

This approach will pave the way for a future that grasps the huge potential and possibilities for the region, attracts funding and builds up a damaged reputation which can look towards a Devolution Deal 2 and helps deliver the ultimate goal of sustainability doubling the size of the economy for the benefit not just of its residences but for UK PLC as a whole.

The major foundations of long-term improvement I have identified can be achieved rapidly if members commit to wholeheartedly supporting the change outlined in my report.”