Achievements in meeting our priorities for 2011/12
The Council's vision of 'Creating a better Southend' is supported by 5 aims:
- Led by an Excellent council
Aim: Safe Corporate Priority 1: Continue to reduce crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour
Southend was awarded the prestigious Purple Flag accreditation, given by the Association of Town Centre Management, recognising excellence in the management of town and city centres at night. The scheme, similar to the Blue Flag for beaches, praises the town's high street and seafront for being 'welcoming, safe and clean'. The town joins just 29 other locations in the UK to be given the award.
The Council's Youth Offending Service has been rated the best in the country for preventing youngsters from re-offending through its work, including an innovative 'triage' programme that means arrested youngsters work with the service rather than being prosecuted.
All crime has reduced 7% between 2008 and 2011 and in challenging economic conditions, further reduced by 0.4% in the last year - in contrast to other areas which have seen an upward trend. A reduction in anti-social behaviour has been particularly successful with reported incidents down over the year by 12.6% (Sep 2011).
Cases of Criminal Damage have reduced and are 15% below target.
57 Community Safety road shows were held where more than 1000 bikes and mobility scooters were security tagged and more than 2,000 UV property marking kits, personal attack alarms and purse chains handed out to help reduce crime and provide reassurance.
An 'Allotment Watch' scheme was launched to deter criminals and reassure plot-holders.
Working with Essex Police a three month public campaign to crack down on burglary was undertaken. This includes high level publicity with adverts on Southend Radio and 60,000 postcards delivered to houses.
More than half the 942 reports of anti social behaviour received during the year by Southend's Multi Agency Anti Social Behaviour Team were resolved in one contact. Five ASBOs were secured on drug dealers, banning them from the borough and a closure order was issued on a crack house.
There was an 85% success rate in mediating neighbourhood disputes.
22 car parks now have Park Mark accreditation from the Police.
A sub-regional pilot for prolific offenders was run helping to reduce offending and increase the number of ex-offenders finding suitable employment and training opportunities.
Corporate Priority 2: Create a Well-maintained and attractive street-scene, parks and open spaces
- A more comprehensive process of street surveys was introduced covering more streets and both cleanliness and highways issues. The proportion of streets meeting the required standards increased by 5% during the year and consistently scored above 80% in terms of performance, with all targets met. This has helped sustain the borough's rating of five stars (the highest) for cleansing standards by Clean Britain.
The borough was awarded silver in the Anglia in Bloom competition after judges scrutinised the town to assess all aspects, including parks, street cleaning and recycling.
A new clean, green, all electric and virtually silent street sweeper was introduced to help keep the town clean - the first to be used by a local authority in England.
Four Green Flags were awarded for our Parks - Chalkwell Park, Belfairs Park and Nature Reserve, Priory Park and Southchurch Park.
Our Parks Team worked in partnership with Metal and the Southbank Centre to create an attractive floral exhibit 'A Great Day Out on Sea' as part of the Festival of Britain's 60th anniversary celebrations which ran from May to Sept 2011, attracting over two million visitors.
The Warrior Square Gardens refurbishment, including new pavements, planting beds and landscaping features, at one of the most important green spaces in the town, was completed.
The refurbishment of Southchurch Park Lake was completed.
Southend's beaches were awarded five 'Blue Flags' and the Pier and Foreshore team given seven Quality Coast Awards.
Work is progressing on the Belfairs Woodland Resource Centre, a joint enterprise between the Council and Essex Wildlife Trust, which will be open to the whole community and is part of a larger Belfairs Park Project to engage schools, and the rest of the community in volunteering, education and family adventures.
The Council was awarded the highest 5-star rating under the 'loo of the year' scheme for toilets at Crowstone Shelter and City Beach.
Engineering works and road safety education has had a positive impact on accidents and casualty reduction with the numbers of people KSI (Killed or Seriously Injured) down to 62 from 65 in 2010, fatalities down from four to two and overall casualties reduced from 545 to 498.
Corporate Priority 3: Minimise our impact on the natural environment
- Levels of recycling continued to improve - from 28% of waste five years ago to 46.6% in the year to March 2012 - helped by greater food waste recycling, the introduction of recycling for rigid plastic, paint and aerosol cans along with education campaigns such as using recycling advisors to contact residents direct.
- The Council achieved national recognition by winning a Green Apple Award for Environmental Best Practice because of its approach to carbon management. The Priory Museum also won a Green Apple Award.
- The Council registered successfully for the Governments Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC) and achieved the highest CRC League Table performance of all participating local authorities in Essex.
- The ERDF Low Carbon Business programme, of which Southend is a key partner, was named New Energy Champion of the Year in March 2012. The programme's grant manual is now used as an example of best practice across the East of England.
- The Council held a second national conference on the UK's transition to the low-carbon economy in March 2012, with speakers from the Committee on Climate Change and the Environment Agency highlighting how business and other partners can benefit.
- In July 2011 the Council won £4.8m through the Local Sustainable Transport Fund to boost sustainable travel in the borough and reduce carbon emissions.
- The Council won a £1.6m bid from the Better Bus Area Fund, (one of only 24 in the country to be approved) to fund ways to help encourage more people to use buses, cut congestion and promote a low carbon transport infrastructure. This was topped up by Arriva and First Essex Buses and Southend's Local Transport Plan funding.
- £1.2m of funding was secured for the ReallySmartHouse initiative that is designed to reduce the carbon emissions of sixty properties in the St Luke's Ward by 40% and create the first 'Low-Carbon Zone' in Essex.
- The Council won £12,000 through the Climate Change Skills Fund to promote the use of electric bikes throughout the borough as an alternative to short car journeys.
- 48 schools were provided with free water efficiency technologies.
- The Council supported Climate Week and Earth Hour, to help raise awareness of sustainability issues, for the first time.
Corporate Priority 4: Continue to improve outcomes for vulnerable adults and older people
- A review of the rehabilitation and re-ablement service was completed, leading to operational changes that support hospital discharge by the implementation of a single point of referral (SPOR) - reducing hospital admissions and producing significant savings.
- SHIP (Southend's Health & Wellbeing Information Point) - a new online service - was launched to help maintain the independence of Southend residents who need extra support. Developed in partnership with local health and voluntary sector partners, it provides information about health and social care services that help people enjoy independence at home and in their community - http://www.southendinfopoint.org/.
- Locality social work teams have been developed, with implementation due in July 2012.
- The Council met its 65% target for service users to receive self directed support (such as direct payments and personal budgets), giving them choice and control over their care and support.
- 84% of older people aged over 65 achieved independence through rehabilitation and/or intermediate care on discharge from hospital - avoiding longer than necessary stays.
- 83% of social care clients received an assessment or review of their case over the year.
- A revamped Dial-A-Ride service offering door-to-door transport for residents saw a significant uptake in people enrolled with the service - it now has more than 400 users.
- The Warm and Well-on-Sea partnership project supported efforts to help vulnerable people protect themselves against the cold weather by distributing an information and advice booklet.
- The Shared Lives project was promoted to train would-be carers in being able to offer long-term placements in their homes, for vulnerable adults.
Corporate Priority 5: Make Southend active and alive with sport and culture
Southend Swimming & Diving Centre won the regional award in the Best Technical Innovation category of the National Local Authority Building Control (LABC) Building Excellence Award 2011.
The Centre was used by UK and Greek teams prior to the diving world cup in February and the British team will be using the Centre as a pre-Olympic games training venue. By March Southend's diving programme had become the second largest in the country.
Southend Leisure & Tennis Centre (SLTC) has been accepted for inclusion in the official London 2012 Olympic Games Pre-Games Training Camp Guide for the Olympic sports of Athletics, Badminton and Basketball and the Paralympic sports of Boccia, Goalball, Sitting Volleyball, Wheelchair Fencing and Wheelchair Tennis.
A full range of sporting activities was delivered across the town as part of Southend's Olympic legacy, including fencing, archery, boccia, disability sport, sport makers and other free taster sessions.
The Athletics track at SLTC was refurbished, bringing it up to international competition standard
The Adizone, based in Shoebury Park, became the first in the country to be granted the Inspire Mark, the badge of the London 2012 Inspire Programme
Works to the newly refurbished Priory museum have progressed, with the Visitors Centre opening in June 2012 and a 'Sponsor a paver' in the Priory Path campaign, raising £15,000 towards its refurbishment.
Refurbishment and re-display of Southchurch Hall was completed - re-opening in May 2011.
A series of events through the museums service, was held, including 'Living with EKCO' - the year's major exhibition. A cohort of volunteers has been recruited to enable the continued running of the Cliff Lift and provide support to the borough's museums and libraries.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) was installed across the entire branch library network - enabling customers to serve themselves.
Southend Libraries feature as an exemplar library service on the RNIB 'Readingsight' website
Southend Library staff delivered talks to 775 residents, and 162 people took part in a free guided 'Discovery Tour' of the Central Library, making library services more accessible by providing opportunities for local residents and community groups to 're-discover' their library service.
Corporate Priority 6: Continue to improve outcomes for vulnerable children
- The Council's Adoption Team was named as Children's Services Team of the Year, and Ellie Hal-Fead won the Practice Teacher of the Year award at the national 2011 Social Worker of the Year Awards.
- Southend's Youth Offending Service has been rated the best in the country for preventing youngsters from re-offending. Since a triage system was launched in April 2009, where young offenders work with the service instead of being prosecuted, only 63 of the 700 under-18s dealt with, have re-offended.
- School exam results were the best ever with all secondary schools performing above the minimum target.
- Early years children eligible for free school meals in Key Stage 1 performed better - narrowing the gap between them and their peers
- Absence levels reduced in primary and secondary schools (Primary from 5.3 - 5.1% and Secondary from 6.9 - 6.4%).
- There were no permanent exclusions from primary or special schools.
- There are now no schools in Ofsted special measures, reducing from three at the start of the year - following hard work from the schools, governors and parents and leadership and support from the Council.
- More children are having needs met at an earlier (preventative) stage through the Common Assessment Framework and intervention from the Child & Family Early Intervention Team.
- The Improving Learning Together strategy was launched, setting out the Framework through which support and intervention will be provided for vulnerable and under-performing schools and challenge for all schools will be provided.
- Better value for money and reduced costs were achieved in the home to school transport service.
- The trading services offer to schools was revised, with take up increased and new business relationship with academies established.
- Southend Adult Community College exceeded its national benchmarks.
- The Council's Voice and Influence programme has effectively engaged children and young people, developing stronger links with schools and enabling greater representation on Southend Youth Council.
- 89% of early years provision was rated as 'good' or 'outstanding'.
- 90% of school admissions are now completed on-line and 131 families (211 children) have checked and confirmed their eligibility for free school meals through the new online service.
- The New Belfairs School was completed and opened and the rebuild of Hinguar Primary School has proceeded.
- All eligible pupils were offered a primary school place.
- The number of looked after children reduced to 241 (down from 300 in 2007).
- The number of children subject to a child protection plan is, down by 43 from 2010/11.
- The number of first time entrants to the youth justice system is down by six from 2010/11.
- The year end figure for 16-19 year olds who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) is 5.3% - a significant achievement given the economic downturn.
Corporate Priority 7: Enhance the prosperity of Southend and its residents
- The Council's Better Southend Project, comprising the City Beach, Victoria Gateway, Cuckoo Corner and Progress Road schemes, was honoured by the Royal Town Planning Institute. Awarding a prize for the Public Realm category, the judges said of the project: "Sound leadership, good project management and collaborative working between planners, civil engineers and others has delivered these schemes on time, within budget and offering excellent value for money."
- Following the approval for the expansion of London Southend Airport the Stobart Group has invested millions of pounds in an extension to the runway, new radar system, flight control tower, terminal and rail station with a hotel underway, creating significant numbers of jobs.
- Southend Visitor Information Centre received a special award, being recognised as the best in the county. The Centre, based at Southend Pier, won the coveted title of Tourist Information Centre of the Year.
- Building of the new state-of-the art £27m 'The Forum Southend-on-Sea' has commenced. The four-storey building, due to be completed in August 2013, will provide a new public and academic library to replace the existing Central Library, as well as a new teaching facility for the College and new University research and learning facilities. The Forum will provide a new home for the Focal Point Gallery as well as a new café, lecture theatre and large screen to show cultural and sporting events.
- The restored North Road Chapel has become an inspiring community venue, managed by Southend Association of Voluntary Services (SAVS) for and on behalf of the community and supporting projects such as the intergenerational Shared Spaces Project to explore the past through historical research of the cemetery.
- The Council supported new and young local businesses by funding Networking-on-Sea, a forum which takes place twice a month and averages 35 attendees.
- The Council informed and engaged with local businesses through quarterly Southend Business Partnership briefings in a new format with registrations averaging 80.
- The Council, in conjunction with Business Link East, held a public sector procurement workshop preparing businesses, social enterprises and charities to tender for public sector contracts.
Corporate Priority 8: Enable well-planned quality housing and developments that meet the needs of Southend's residents and businesses
South Essex Homes met their target for making improvements to the quality of housing stock through their Decent Homes investment programme - 90% are now meet the 'decent homes' standard.
Despite the economic downturn, the numbers of households in temporary accommodation was below the target set for the year and lower than the number in April 2011.
Working in partnership with social landlords, 62 additional affordable homes were delivered - exceeding the target set for the year.
The Council engaged with local private sector landlords to work jointly to tackle areas of poor quality housing and neighbourhoods experiencing high levels of anti social behaviour.
The Council helped 682 people find suitable accommodation.
The Council ensured a further 63 houses in multiple occupation were licensed.
The time taken to re-let council homes reduced from 25 to 23 days.
Working proactively with residents and partner agencies to the level of rent arrears was maintained in a difficult economic climate, exceeding the target set for the year.
The Council's housing allocations policy was revised to better reflect local needs
The Council was selected to be the lead authority in the South Essex region for the Government's single homelessness project, responsible for a budget of £391,000, to ensure that no-one becomes an entrenched rough sleeper.
201 serious health and safety hazards were removed from private properties.
174 homes of vulnerable private householders were made decent.
48 serious hazards were removed and 75 homes made decent among privately rented properties in Health Improvement Areas in the most deprived wards.
Supporting People services delivered £680,000 savings target whilst protecting front line services, and having the highest quality rated services in the Eastern Region.
The Council was selected to deliver one of the 10 National Supporting People Payment by Results (PBR) pilots and one of the four in-depth year one reviews on how PBR can develop market knowledge.
A joint procurement exercise with Essex County Council was completed to provide flexible support services that delivered savings of £250,000 whilst expanding capacity locally.
The Council led a bid to successfully secure an additional £400,000 to tackle empty homes in south-Essex.
The Council secured at least £631,000 of New Homes Bonus funding from government for each of the next four years
Corporate Priority 9: Reduce inequalities and increase the life chances of people living in Southend
- The Council was ranked the country's 27th best employer in Stonewall's Workplace Equality index and the 6th highest local authority - up from 35th, 63rd, 133rd and 268th in preceding years. In addition, South Essex Homes was recognised for the first time in the top 100
- Pioneering work to support families with multiple problems has been scaled up, enabling the Council to build on the Think Family and Family Intervention Projects (FIP) initiatives that have significantly improved the lives of families and local communities. Accessing up to £1.4m on a payment by results basis, this work is being broadened to provide life-changing support to a further 420 troubled families by 2015.
- The Council introduced voluntary and community sector commissioning to align funding more closely to improved outcomes for the most vulnerable members of the community, maximising the use of the limited funding by, for example, getting groups to work together and share resources more than in the past.
- New impetus has been given to the Council's strategy for tackling all-ages poverty. An innovative conference in March brought together local partners to identify the causes of disadvantage, what initiatives are already in place and what more could be done to reduce poverty in the borough.
- Following the passing of the Health & Social Care Act, the Council established a shadow Health & Well Being Board, developed a new Health & Social Care Strategy, developed relations with the new Clinical Commissioning Group and relocated public health staff to Council premises ahead of taking on public health functions from April 2013.
- Following a successful Multi-faith event in November 2011, the Council teamed up with several faith organisations to establish an Interfaith Working Group to develop relationships between the local faith sector and the Council to obtain better support and outcomes for vulnerable communities in Southend.
- The Council's leading role in equality work has been recognised with the Council being asked to undertake an equality assessment of Leeds City Council and being invited to share its practice with Ford Motors, Barnado's, Stonewall, Southend Adult Community College, Leigh Town Council. The Council has also worked with the third sector to support better cohesion with our local Polish and Roma communities.
- The Community Cohesion Conference attracted 140 delegates (against last year's 70), providing the opportunity to inform the refreshed strategy and see the launch of the Champions' http://www.southendcommunityinaction.posterous.com/ site. Using feedback from the event a 'Resources in Tough Times' workshop has already been held.
- The Council revised its equality objectives for the next four years and made equality information, used to influence Council policy, available via the Southend Insights web pages.
- Our Staff Diversity Forums continue to go from strength to strength. This year our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Staff Forum marked its 5th anniversary, and was selected as a finalist in the Employee Network category of the Race for Opportunity awards. Our Disability Forum held an awareness raising event and the LGBT publicised LGBT history month in February.
Corporate Priority 10: Deliver strong, relevant and targeted services that meet the needs of our community
The Council won the landmark title of Council of the Year 2012 awarded by the Local Government Chronicle having been shortlisted for the same award last year and narrowly missing out on being named 'Most Improved Council of the Year' in 2010.
Judges said the Council has "shown sustained progress over a number of years, passing clear milestones. It has gone beyond basic service provision, adding significant value and demonstrating visible impact for the community ... Judges were impressed by the Council's ambition and real determination to change and shape the place for the better, and its investment in people, partnerships and leadership."
- Building on the Council's Investors in People accreditation, the Council won the Public Sector People Managers' Association (PPMA) award for 'Innovation in Workforce Engagement'. The award was given for demonstrating innovation and creativity in engaging the workforce to support changing organisational objectives and challenging decisions.
- Despite the economic climate and its impact on the council's finances and job security, sickness levels remained stable - following a 33% reduction in 2010/11 - and staff surveys revealed that the Council's workforce was more engaged than before.
- The Council's Revenues and Benefits service was judged the best in its category in the national 'Excellence in Customer Service' awards scheme run by the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation (IRRV). The service demonstrated high levels and rapid improvement in customer satisfaction with flexible payment arrangements and its mobile service.
- The Council's Insurance Team was shortlisted for the Best Risk Management Approach in the Strategic Risk Awards for its unique new way of dealing with personal injury claimants that enables claims to be settled without the involvement of solicitors.
- The Council was shortlisted for the Municipal Journal Local Government Achievements Awards 2012 - in three categories:
- Workforce Transformation
- Shared Services
- Transformation through IT
- And commended in the Customer Behaviour Change category
To date, 80 staff have found new roles within the Council through the Talent Pool, rather than been made redundant.
- The Council's way of assessing customer satisfaction was described as 'a case study in excellence', by the national assessor Govmetric, who praised the Council for continually improving the way it captures and acts on the views of customers.
- The Royal Society of the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) audit on the Council's Health and Safety policy and practice confirmed that the Council is operating at Level 4 out of 5, where 5 is the highest - an improvement of three levels from two years ago.
- Refurbishment of the Civic Centre is on course to help save the Council significant resources by reducing energy and other running costs (helping us to meet our Carbon Reduction Commitment) through closing four other sites that are surplus to requirements and moving staff into the civic centre offices.
- The Council funded opportunities for 74 apprenticeships across a range of sectors and for a range of age groups within the borough and has provided 30 apprenticeships within the Council.
- The Council's residents' magazine for residents was commended as a finalist in the 'Council Publication - Journalism' category of the Good Communication Awards 2011.
- The Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities gave Southend Crematorium top marks after an official inspection, saying: "The crematorium appears to be extremely well run, and the visitors were impressed with the general standard of maintenance throughout".
- The re-tendering of the current Revenues and Benefits Management Service contract has led to a saving of £200,000 a year
Last updated: 13th July 2012