The Corporate Plan
This Plan presents the Council’s commitments for 2013/14, outlining how we will take these forward and defining how we will measure our progress. Our priorities have been shaped by residents’ views through a range of consultation activities and informed by analysis to identify current and future needs. In this way, we have ensured that we are focusing upon the areas most important to local people.
Our mission is to be a Borough where residents can influence the shape of their local neighbourhood and priorities within it; where we have an accountable, open Council; and powerful involved communities. A fundamental role of the Council and the individual Councillors is to represent the residents of the borough. The Council also has a role in ensuring that local people have opportunities to have a say on matters that affect them. In May this year we will ensure that residents are able to have a say on one of the biggest issues – the proposed expansion of Heathrow by holding a local referendum on this issue.
Our vision is for Richmond to be the best and one of the safest boroughs in London, one identified by its green character, historic buildings, high quality appearance, vibrant high streets and outstanding schools and services, one where businesses can thrive and citizens can help change neighbourhoods for the better, including supporting the most vulnerable of our residents. Following the tremendous response that the Council received to the All in One Survey in 2011, we have developed village plans reflecting the issues that local people identified as important for their local areas. These plans are not static; they reflect local priorities, setting out each village, and the programmes that the Council and the communities are delivering.
The Council has also spent the last three years considering the Council as an organisation. In November 2010, we set out our ambition to become a commissioning Council, securing efficiencies and savings. We have taken a fundamental look at all of our services to determine the best way of securing high quality value for money services and enabling creativity and innovation.
The Plan explains how the Council will contribute towards delivering this vision and how we intend to work with the community in designing and delivering services. Our approach will be underpinned by the following values, “Fairness for all; Involvement of all; Value for all”
Our priorities for the next year are categorised under the themes of ‘People’, ‘Place’ and ‘Resources’, in order to align our business planning processes with our commissioning intentions. Within these themes, we have identified the following service priorities:
- Protecting the most vulnerable
- A healthy borough
- The best schools in London
- A Green Borough
- Supporting Business and the Arts
- A Borough open to visitors
- A Safe Borough
- Putting people first
- An accountable council
- Involving our community
- Fairness for all
Protecting the most vulnerable: choice in service
We know that some residents in the borough are vulnerable and may require support to maintain independent lives. The Council will protect the most vulnerable and ensure residents have access to the support and benefits to which they are entitled. We will continue to develop personalised support to give people more choice and control over their lives.
We are committed to ensuring that Richmond upon Thames is as safe as it can be for adults and children at risk. We will achieve this by working collaboratively in partnership with statutory and voluntary sector partners to support vulnerable people.
There are some challenges and inequalities between relatively wealthy and relatively poor areas of the borough and between children with particular needs. Our vision is to target the most support on those who need the most help, ensuring that every child in every part of the borough, no matter what their background or their need, has the chance to fulfil their true to potential.
We will recognise the contribution of older people to the life of the borough and improve services to those most in need including the elderly, frail and isolated. We have appointed a Champion for Older residents to listen and respond to older people in the borough.
A healthy borough: Integrated care
We are committed to promoting the health, wellbeing and independence of people and communities. To achieve this, we commission a range of services including reablement, home support, day care, meals alongside support from the voluntary sector in order to provide the best outcomes for individuals. Our Tenant’s Champion supports tenants in the social rented sector.
We will work with Richmond’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to develop and commission integrated services across health and social care. Working with Hounslow Council, Richmond and Hounslow CCGs and Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare NHS Trust we will take steps to set up an Integrated Care Organisation with the aim of improving health and social care services for residents. The business case will be developed for consideration in June 2013, with the intention of staged implementation during summer and autumn 2014. From April 2013 Public Health responsibilities transfer to the Council from the Primary Care Trust under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
We are committed to ensuring every child has the best start in life, supporting them to fulfill their potential and improve their life chances, and to integrate health and social care to improve care in the community and support people with long term conditions out of hospital.
The best schools in London
We are committed to delivering greater choice and excellence in education for parents and promoting the independence and autonomy of schools. To achieve this, working collaboratively with the Royal Borough of Kingston, we are establishing a new body - Achieving for Children - to deliver children’s services. We will expand primary and secondary provision for all; promote sixth form choice in local schools; establish a local Roman Catholic secondary school, a further secondary school in the borough, and encourage new free schools.
A Green Borough: Local Diversity and Quality Planning
This year, the Uplift programme will continue to revitalise areas of the borough through a range of improvements including enhancements to visual appearance, retail areas, open spaces and civic areas. The five year programme, which has been given initial funding of £11 million by the Council, covers the areas of Whitton, Hampton North, Barnes, Mortlake and Ham. Twickenham will see town centre improvements, a reduction in congestion, and improved environmental and safety measures as part of the Twickenham Area Action Plan covering the use of land and buildings. The plan covers the period up to 2027; setting out an overall strategy for the future of Twickenham town centre and the principles for transport. This will include preparations for the Rugby World Cup which will take place in Twickenham in 2015.
We will strengthen civic pride through commonsense policies, which strike a balance between making the borough accessible to all and protecting our precious environment. We will continue to work with residents to increase rates of recycling, reduce energy consumption and promote sustainable outcomes. In response to the All in One process, a new multi-million pound Parks Improvement Programme is being delivered alongside significant new money for highways and footpath maintenance.
The Village Plan process will give residents direct control of parts of our budgets for the first time. We will expect developers to respect the Borough’s unique character and give higher priority to quality design and building that enhances the local street scene and is in keeping with the character of local surroundings.
We have acted to restrict future high-rise development. We will end “garden grabbing” and re-balance the previous policy of promoting smaller rather than family dwelling units. We will carry forward an Uplift Programme for Hampton North, Whitton, Barnes, Ham and Mortlake and regenerate Twickenham after years of neglect to be a twin Borough hub with Richmond.
Supporting local business, reviving local high street and arts
The economy of the Borough is mature, with an emphasis on financial, business, hospitality and retail services. We are working with local businesses and their representative organisations to help identify and address issues and to capitalise on the opportunities that the coming year brings. We will do this by enhancing the Borough’s profile as a place to visit and do business, encouraging social enterprise and supporting initiatives to boost our town and village centres. We will support small shops and high streets, encourage businesses and sole traders.
Businesses have an important role to play in maintaining the vibrancy and distinctiveness of local areas, making them attractive for residents and visitors and are a key factor in the quality of life for residents. We will continue to support the improvement of the trading environment through the Town Centre Opportunity Fund and Civic Pride Fund. We are working to support the High Streets for example by delivering a Business Improvement District (BID) for Twickenham.
We will keep Borough libraries open, promote exhibitions and sustain the Borough’s excellence in the arts, theatre and music. We will support competitive sports and work with locally based clubs. The arts, history and a quality environment are all hallmarks of the Borough, contributing to its attractiveness as a business and visitor destination upon which we will sustain and build upon.
A Borough open to visitors
We have a balanced transport policy that is fair to the motorist, cyclist and pedestrian alike, and sustain a “Fair Parking” policy that ensures parking services serve the interests of local business and communities and do not punish motorists for the sake of revenue generation. We will remove yellow lines where we can and extend short-term free parking. We will not reward wardens for ticketing and we will not impose new Community Parking Zones, except where a majority want them. We will encourage tourism and visitors.
We are always looking to improve the services we offer to our residents and others who visit, work or go to school in the borough, whilst at the same time reducing costs. Our aim is to have a means through which residents and others can manage most of their contact with the Council efficiently and effectively and at a time that suits them. We have already introduced ‘The Richmond Web Account’, which provides immediate on line access to an individual’s council tax and business rates status as well as the means to manage parking permits and recycling bin rentals, with more services planned to come on line in the next few months. To supplement this service the Council is planning to introduce a Richmond Card linked to the Richmond Web Account. This will be a smart card to initially replace the three existing cards in use across the Council for:
- Parking discounts for residents
- Access to leisure services
- Access to library services
It will also provide a discount scheme for use with local shops and businesses. Further functions and services will be added to the Richmond Card in the future. The Council plans to involve residents in determining what these services should be.
A safe borough
We are one of the safest Boroughs in London. We will work with the police and other organisations both voluntary and statutory, to reduce crime. We will use a range of different methods including drug testing on arrest, Controlled Drinking Zones and Dispersal Zones to ensure that people visiting our town centres remain safe and are not disturbed by alcohol related anti-social behaviour.
We will use the Community Trigger, which enables local people to hold us to account for the way that we are tackling anti-social behaviour
An accountable council
We are open and honest about our spending and performance; we have led in publishing information and broadcasting meetings online. We welcome challenge; to that end we publish regular, up-to-date and relevant information, with established channels for questions and feedback. We have introduced DataRich, a publically available web-based tool which brings together information relating to key local issues and provides a central online resource of local data and information for residents, local businesses and voluntary organisations.
Putting people first: a lower tax Borough
In a tough economic climate the Council has worked to maximise resources and is now a more efficient Council. 2012-13 included an additional £8m of savings bringing the total achieved in the last two years to more than £20m. A further £10m has already been agreed for 2013/14 and 2014/15.
The current economic climate means that the Council’s resources are more limited with central funding reduced, the impact of the recession on Council income and rising demand for services, particularly from the vulnerable. The recent Local Government Finance Settlement has made the Council’s financial plans more challenging. In summary:
- The national headline figures showed a 4% reduction in funding for Local Government followed by a further 8.4% reduction in 2014/15, reducing the total funding from £27.2bn to £23.9bn
- The Council remained the lowest funded per head in London.
- The Council lost a further £4.6m government funding in 2013/14 and expects to lose an equivalent amount in the following year.
In this context, the Council has already set out a rolling three year financial plan which includes a Commissioning and Transformation Programme. This is designed to achieve the strategic aim of the Council to become a Commissioning Council, and deliver large-scale savings through the transformation of specific service areas and improving efficiency across all Council services. However, the key objective of the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) remains to:
Deliver a zero % Council Tax increase in the next year and work towards zero or sustainable low increases in the years beyond
In order to do so we will be continuing to focus on developing our commissioning and transformation programmes, whilst also ensuring that we can support our ambitious capital investment programmes which support the services most valued by the local community including schools, parks, highways and pavements.
Providing value for money is integral to all we do. We have frozen Council Tax for a further year and introduced fair parking polices on all our high streets. A comprehensive Efficiency and Transformation Programme is set to deliver large-scale savings, eliminate waste and transfer resources to key priorities. We are committed to joint working and shared service arrangements with other authorities and bodies.
Involving our community
We are committed to forming a new relationship with local communities, where the Council genuinely listens, and residents know that they have influence. To achieve this, we are delivering a unique programme of public engagement. This has included the production of 14 Village Plans based on local priorities determined by local people through the All in One Survey. We have delivered the majority of the actions identified in the Village Plans and will continue to report back on progress with these over the coming year. We will provide opportunities for local people to engage with voluntary and community groups in their local village area. We will publish the Community Plan 2013-2018 which describes a vision for the social, environmental and economic development of the area with our partners. We will provide more advice and information to help voluntary sector and community organisations who want to shape and deliver services for the local community. And we will continue our programme of involving and engaging residents, service users and their carers in the development of services.