A West Suffolk partnership of Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council has become the first in the country to gain a specialist accreditation.
‘Excellent top political and managerial leadership’ at West Suffolk was among the areas singled out for praise by a panel of independent assessors, who awarded the councils, the Charter for Elected Member Development.
The scheme, run by The Local Government Association, is designed so that councils can ensure they provide a high quality and effective training and development programme to councillors, in turn allowing them to have a greater understanding when it comes to representing their wards.
Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury is the first joint partnership to have gained the charter.
Cllr Rona Burt, Chair of the Joint Member Development Group: “This is proof if it were needed, that West Suffolk works.
“Our councillors – of all political persuasions – benefit from training across a host of topic areas.
“That training allows us, as councillors to advise the people that we represent in our wards, to help solve the issues that blight people’s lives, and to be better informed in our decision making in the council chamber,” she said.
As part of their development councillors from Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury toured each other’s district to gain a greater understanding of some of the various ward issues.
Although most the training was provided in-house, the two councils had to demonstrate what they had done to a team of independent assessors made up of one representative from the Local Government Association, a councillor from Essex and an officer from Waveney District Council.
They praised West Suffolk for its comprehensive member development programme, next generation leadership development, as well as its new culture and ways of working as ‘West Suffolk’.
Cllr David Ray, St Edmundsbury’s cabinet member for resources and performance said: “As councillors we are elected to represent the best interests of the people in our wards – understanding how we can do that better is at the heart of this Member Development Charter.
“It should give people confidence that West Suffolk can demonstrate that it provides training to councillors so that they can have a better grasp of complex issues – such as Business Rate Relief and the New Homes Bonus - that will help their decision making and make them more effective as councillors.”