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Restructuring to reshape Wokingham Borough Council to enhance services to residents

Wokingham Borough Council offices shute end

A REFINEMENT of council operations is being made in a bid to deliver ‘continuous improvements’ to residents.

Leader John Halsall said that the changes are the mark of a modern organisation that would help create the right structure to deliver Wokingham Borough Council’s community vision.

Work began on the changes last month and are continuing.

In a letter to council staff, he said: “The guiding principle behind these changes is to get the right roles in the right places in order to succeed for our residents – in short, we are putting together those teams who need to be together and separating those who don’t.

“Unlike in some previous re-structures, we are fortunate not to have savings targets for these changes; this is all about creating centres of excellence and to drive service improvement (although attaining efficiencies will always be vital).”

The changes include moving the council’s Housing Service team under the authority of the Communities, Insight and Change Directorate.

Simon Price, the assistant director for housing, income and assessments will become the assistant director for neighbourhoods and communities, with a responsibility for housing, localities and community safety.

And the planning customer delivery team will move to the place and growth directorate.

Cllr Halsall told staff: “I am confident we are developing a structure that will best allow us to provide excellent services to our residents”.

He told Wokingham.Today: “The traditional management structure is that the captain is at the top, the font of all wisdom and it flows downwards.

“That’s really not what we’re here for – we’re here to serve our residents, so the pyramid needs to be inverted, with the residents at the top.

“The residents’ wishes and requirements are fed through a system which delivers those requirements
and then informs the strategy.”

He added that the changes were to help the council work across all 17 towns and parishes, all of whom “have their own flavour and distinctiveness and different needs”.

“The provision of those needs is from the police, the health service and the council, and the council has to fill in where there are gaps,” he said.

The restructuring, he hoped, will help address some of the lower level concerns residents face, such as public nuisances.

It was hoped that by bringing the council’s Public Protection Partnership staff back in house, rather than being run on behalf of three councils, that Wokingham Borough could take faster action on issues such as bonfires, nuisance neighbours, fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour.

“This is going to be a very exciting piece of work,” he said of the plans. “It’s huge, and will take some time to get it right.”

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