News from your Conservative Councillors in Cheshire West & Chester
About Your Council
Cheshire West & Chester is a unitary council providing almost all local services for our 330,000 residents.
The council was created in 2008 from the merging of Ellesmere Port & Neston Borough, Chester City and Vale Royal Borough Councils and half of Cheshire County Council.
In the elections in 2008 the Consevatives won 54% of the vote and 55 of the 72 seats. In the 2011 elections, fought with brand new wards the Conservatives remained in control, winning 42 of the 75 seats.
In May 2015, 36 Conservatives were elected but control passed to Labour who have a 1 seat majority.
Here are some of the many achievements made by your council in its short life so far.
Savings. During the first three years of its operation, the Council has delivered gross savings of £82m. The Council has reinvested £34m of this and reduced the cost to taxpayers by £48m.
Capital Programme. The Council has embarked on an ambitious 10 year capital vision that includes a number of significant infrastructure projects which are changing and improving the landscape of Cheshire West and Chester for the benefit of the residents. £165m of Council resources have been earmarked for this investment which includes a Theatre in Chester, a Lifestyle Centre in Northwich and a replacement for the EPIC in Ellesmere Port. Other significant key capital schemes also include the Winsford and Ellesmere Port Academies, and Extra Care Housing Provision.
Roads infrastructure. We have spent £14.7m on Highway Maintenance work with a reduced staff resource. We managed the Highway Network through 3 of the worst winters in 30 years (salting operation and road condition following the bad weather). No roads were closed with many members of the public noticing the better winter service in CWAC than elsewhere (this was recognised nationally on the ‘fillthatpothole.com’ website were we scored 100% completed works out of 217 Councils in England and Wales. This CTC award for the best Council in the Country for dealing with Potholes; this award was organised, monitored and awarded by the road users themselves, our customers). We also delivered a significant cutting edge highway contract in Partnership with Shropshire realising 8.2% savings.
Outstanding Governance. The Audit Commission’s 2010/11 Audit Letter which was considered by the Executive in December 2011 included the following positive messages: the Council’s financial statements received an unqualified opinion and were prepared to a very good standard; the Council has proper arrangements in place to achieve economy, efficiency and effectiveness; and the Council has a good track record of achieving savings.
Education. Since the ‘vesting day’ Cheshire West and Chester secondary schools have dramatically improved their GCSE scores from 51% attaining five good GCSEs including English and mathematics, to 61%, which is well above national averages. Ofsted grading has improved significantly, too. Under the 2009 – 2011 framework 62% of primary schools were graded good or better compared with 55% nationally, 92% of secondary schools compared with 52% nationally and 100% of special schools compared with 76% nationally.
LEP. We set-up the Sub-Regional team to support the Local Enterprise Partnership, and Marketing Cheshire to secure inward investment and drive forward the growth of the sub-region.
Regeneration. We have identified 4 regeneration priorities in Chester, Ellesmere Port, Weaver Vale and the rural area, with robust investment plans for each and strong public/private sector partnerships to oversee their delivery.
Community Budgets. We have been successful in being chosen by the Government as one of only four pilot authorities for the Whole-place Community Budget. This will provide a unique opportunity to test the principles outlined in the Open Public Services White Paper, and the policy measures in the Localism Bill. The pilot will provide local public service partners with the freedom to work together to redesign services around the needs of citizens, with the aim of improving outcomes and reducing duplication and waste. This is a great opportunity for us as a council to put our stamp on the future of local services delivery and be recognised as a progressive authority at national level.
Terms and Conditions. On 1 April 2012 new Terms and Conditions for all CWaC staff were introduced, replacing the old four sets of terms and conditions from the legacy authorities. This will ensure that each of our staff will have the same rights and responsibilities. Crucially, the new Terms and Conditions will save the tax payers £3.8m each year and 360 HR legacy policies have been replaced by 35 new HR policies.
National awards. Since the vesting day the Council has been recognised as an ambitious, forward thinking authority. We have won awards at national level in Adults Services (‘Personalisation Agenda for Direct Payments’ – LGC 2010), Finance (several awards for Pensions Services, Benefits and Finance in 2010 and 2011), Facilities and Assets Management (the way we optimise the value and use our assets) and have been regularly shortlisted for categories in other various area of the Council. Overall, we are a constant presence in the list of such national awards.