Leadership blog – Friday 15 March 2024

Cllr Tony Cox updates on our peer challenge from the LGA, looks ahead to the local elections and encourages people to ensure they’re registered to vote.

Cllr Tony Cox wearing a navy blue suit jacket, white shirt and a pink, blue and white flowery tie. He is sitting in front of the Council Coat of Arms.

I am pleased to report that the Local Government Association (LGA) has said that clear and positive progress has been since we had our corporate peer challenge in October 2022. A corporate peer challenge is part of the support that the LGA offers to councils. It provides independent and external support and challenge, conducted by a team of councillors and senior officers from other councils. The ‘peer’ teams spent significant time within the council to identify and address issues and challenge progress across key themes.

As part of this process, they returned to see us in December 2023 and report back on progress. Their report has now been published on our website.

It states how the political leadership and interim chief executive worked hard to bring greater stability to the council’s senior officer team and continue to implement the recommendations made. They referenced the work to build a more engaging leadership style through stronger communication, alongside greater cross-party working.

During their follow-up visit they also found that councillors, employers, and partners agree that progress is being made, ways of working are improving, and the direction of travel is positive. There is also strong recognition that there is still more work to do and a clear commitment to continue with this.

Overall, the LGA’s report acknowledges good progress across all the recommendations but also outlines the challenging financial environment we face. A strong and consistent message arising from the progress review is the need to maintain focus on the delivery of the required savings and medium-term financial resilience. The peers further highlighted the importance of transformation in achieving this.

I am clear that it is vital now that the good work we have delivered continues under the new chief executive, and we do not lose momentum.

This will be the last leadership blog for a few weeks, as we enter what is known as the pre-election period ahead of Thursday 2nd May. This restricts council communications activity to ensure fairness at election time. Whatever your political persuasion, it is important that people exercise their right to vote. To do that, please ensure that you are registered to vote. The deadline to do this on Tuesday 16 April.

There are a number of other key dates regarding postal and proxy votes for example that you can view on our website. You’ll also need Voter ID if you want to vote in person at a polling station. If you do not have an approved form of ID, you can apply for a voter authority certificate by 5pm on Wednesday 24 April.

It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as Leader of the council for what has been a challenging year, and whatever the overall outcome of the elections in May, I will continue to serve the city I love as best I can.

Have a great weekend.

Cllr Tony Cox,
Leader of the Council

Published: 15th March 2024

Southend-on-Sea City Council